Easy Practices to Gently Introduce Your Child To Meditation
Meditation is fun for children of all ages. It’s a wonderful way for them to learn how to feel calm, focused and connected to their feelings and physical bodies. Here are three easy meditations to help gently introduce your child to the practice. Children should always feel free to modify these in ways that work for them. It’s more important that they enjoy practicing than it is for them to be “good” at meditation. If they associate joy with meditation, they will want to continue doing it, and over time their skills will naturally develop.
Breathing meditation can take many forms. Start with this simple version. Guide your child through the following practice using a Hoberman Sphere or just their hands:
Hold a Hoberman sphere in front of your torso (or use your palms pressed together), and take a long breath in as you expand the sphere outward (or your hands apart). Keep expanding until you’ve inhaled as much as you comfortably can, then start contracting the sphere (or bring your palms back together) as you exhale your breath. Take notice. Was your inhale longer than your exhale? Were they about the same? Repeat the breath several times and try to make the length of your inhale and exhale even. Play around with the speed of your breathing. Enjoy your breath.
Also known as “fire gazing,” this simple practice invites children to calmly release their worries and thoughts by gazing into the flame of a candle. Safely set up a candle about 2 feet in front of your child. You can use an LED light candle which is safer for toddlers and easy to carry with you while on the go. Have your child sit comfortably and set a timer. Any length of time works. Five minutes, two minutes or even one minute. You can let your child decide.
Dim or turn off the lights. Light the candle and instruct your child to keep their eyes on the flame. Encourage your child to let go of anything they might be thinking. If their gaze wanders, gently remind them to return it to the flame, continue sitting still and to let go of their thoughts, if possible.
This meditation works well for children because it gives them something naturally mesmerizing to focus on, without them needing to close their eyes. Focusing on a flame allows them to feel calm and peaceful. For slightly more advanced practice, instruct your child to breathe in the light each time they inhale and imagine that the light fills their whole body with a happy feeling.
The word “mantra” means “mind protection,” and can be any word or phrase that your child repeats to feel happy and calm. Ask your child to think of words and phrases that make them feel happy. Encourage them to repeat those words or phrases, three or more times silently or aloud, whenever they’d like to throughout the day.
Here are some ideas:
Warm sun, blue sky.
I am _____ (peaceful, strong, happy, loving, kind, thankful, etc.).
Let it go.
“Om” (the universal sound. A grounding and comforting sound).
May I be happy and free. May my family be happy and free. May my friends be happy and free…. [fill in anyone else as you wish.]
Your child can turn to these three meditations for calm, comforting and happy vibes. Encourage them to practice often, but never force it. Remember, one of the best ways to encourage a child to meditate is to let them see YOU practicing, too.
Stephanie Gatschet MS, CNC, founder of BioVie Nutrition, is a clinical nutritionist and Certified Nutritional Chef based in San Diego, CA. She uses functional, holistic nutrition principles to create personalized plans honoring the unique bio-individuality and lifestyle of each client. She teaches meditation for adults and children at the Kadampa Meditation Center San Diego and elsewhere, and is mother to Vela (age 5).