Teaching Children Meditation as a Stress Relief Tool

Why is teaching children meditation valuable?

Children can receive much benefit from being taught meditation and visualization. Although visualization is not quite the same as meditation, for younger children it is a great preparation for learning to meditate. Meditation is a fantastic tool to use in helping your children learn to live a stress free life. Here are some of things that meditation does for your child:

• It creates an alpha state in your child’s mind so that the mind is relaxed, present and receptive.

• It creates a state of being, rather than doing – being still instead of busy

• Senses become enhanced – sights, sounds, touching, feeling are all brighter, clearer, more intense.

• Your child will become more in touch with, and understand, her feelings better

• It can lead to greater happiness and self-acceptance

How you can help your child to meditate

Although it can be helpful if you have had some experience of meditation yourself but, if you haven't, don’t let that put you off teaching your child meditation and visualisation. There are many good books available. And you can have fun learning together and sharing experiences with each other as you go. Remember that this is a new and important skill your children are learning but it is not like a school subject where progress is assessed and graded. Meditation is a very individual experience and cannot be marked out of ten.

If you remember to:

- remain relaxed and promote a gentle state of mind in yourself

- allow each child’s experience of meditation to unfold in its own way

- be patient

- make it clear that there is no such thing as a good or bad meditation, each meditation has its own inherent benefit

- keep it simple and easy

- encourage your children to discuss what they have experienced

then you will certainly have some rewarding meditation and visualization experiences with your children.

How to start teaching children meditation

To introduce the idea of meditation to your children, choose a time when you are all together, quiet and peaceful, with no distractions like TV or music in the background. If you tell your children a story at bedtime, this would be good time. Explain to them that meditation is a way of making their minds peaceful and relaxed. That it will help them to be happier and make their lives easier. It may be easier to show them than to explain in too much detail. Children usually respond better to doing, rather than listening. So just get stuck in to a creative visualization and let them experience for themselves how it feels. See below for ideas on creative visualizations.

Making meditation fit with your child’s age

For younger children (and older kids too), using creative visualizations can be a really good introduction to teaching children meditation. A creative visualization is like a picture story that you create in your head. If you close your eyes, it makes it easier to picture somewhere or something calm and beautiful and then describe it to your children, slowly and in a soft, calm voice. By relaxing yourself and going with the flow you will find that the visualization will create itself in your head. All you have to do is put it into words for your kids. Even if you are not a particularly visual person, you can remember a beautiful place you have been or something you have seen and describe it in as much detail as possible. Bringing birds, animals and/or fantasy creatures into the visualization can be effective too.

Visualization works as an introduction to meditation because it keeps the mind focused on one thing. Focusing the mind so that it stops jumping from one thought to another for a while is what meditation aims to achieve.

For older children, you can still begin with creative visualizations. When they have got used to focusing their minds in this way, you can move onto meditation. There are many different ways to meditate and many, many books on the subject. Suggest some possible ways to your children and see which ones they would like to try. Start by talking them through the process. Once you have found one that they like and they are used to it, you can all settle to meditate together and do it in silence or with some music designed for meditation.

There will be ups and downs along the path and as long as you keep the whole process light and fun, your children will get enormous benefit from being taught how to meditate. And don't forget that teaching children meditation is also going to benefit you as well.

Resources for Teaching Children Meditation

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