Children and Meditation
Children can use meditation as a key to their future.
By REV. TRICIA BLOOMFIELD
Meditation is many faceted. Children are also many faceted, made up of different temperaments and individual natures. Children can use meditation as a key for their future. It is a tool in the process of spiritual evolution and for balancing oneself between the material/physical world and the inner/subtler realms. Meditation is sometimes used as an identification with God, the higher Self and the Universe. It may be viewed as a bridge between learned knowledge and inner wisdom. It is especially valuable to children as a means of expression and communication. It is helpful in establishing a positive/greater sense of self. And, just as adults sometimes use meditation to find solace, so may children. Meditation can be helpful in maintaining equilibrium in today’s world, which sometimes seems chaotic.
Meditation is a gift that can be shared with children of all ages and religious beliefs. It can become a very special time for parents and children to relate with each other on a new level. Every individual is unique; therefore, meditative techniques will vary depending upon the age and attention span of each child. Parents and teachers can intuit which method is most valuable, and the length of time needed.
Children are influenced by many uncontrollable factors. Giving them the gift of meditation can set up a basis for their spiritual and psychological development throughout their lives. Sharing and showing love are essential qualities that can be nurtured through meditation. In this way a deeper self-awareness can be discovered and kindled. Inner tranquility and a greater sense of learning fulfillment can also be found through the fruits of meditation. And it’s fun!
Always prepare oneself before meditating with children. Relax, perhaps follow a brief version of a technique given below-everything presented here is valid for all children-from 1 to 100. To provide incentive within the child for such a new endeavor, establish a specialness related to the meditative period. Create a rapport between yourself and the child by allowing freedom of expression and use of imagination.
MEDITATING WITH INFANTS
Parents (one or both) may begin meditating with infants by simply holding them in their arms and making a conscious alignment between themselves, the child and their higher Source. During alignment, the parents may recognize the perfection of the beautiful loving soul that is in their keeping. This is a good time to sing softly, quietly say aloud a prayer and/or listen to soft music. The time can be as short as three minutes a day or as long as one wishes. Frequency and consistency enhance the process and experience.
Some people feel that meditation generates too much energy for young children, but they seem to respond very well to meditation when introduced gradually. A gentle introduction, patience and perseverance will prepare youngsters to understand the flow and rhythm of energies.
Simple centering techniques, for bringing harmony into ones physical/emotional/mental parts, and breathing exercises can aid beginning meditators. Centering is a simple term and technique that children can understand and learn.
Centering and breathing exercises can be introduced to children at about three years of age. Centering can be projected as a feeling or demonstrated through simple physical movements that act out and focus the attention to the task at hand. An example would be sitting, cross-legged or in a chair with backs straight, and picturing a string of lights along the spine and coming out of the top of the head. In this position, the children can place their hands on their knees, palms up. See below for a sample centering movement. Make up your own, too.
Centering and physical movements are symbolic for young meditators. Their understanding and the significance of the preparation for meditation will reveal itself later as the child develops personal patterns, rhythms and types of meditation.
Begin each session with simple deep breathing. Done rhythmically, it sets the pace for the rest of the meditation. Breathing exercises are especially helpful if a child is restless or rowdy. Create a special tranquil time or quiet time by having the child sit, in a chair or on the floor (perhaps on a special mat, towel or carpet). Groups of children can sit in a circle. Use images to illustrate the breath: the lungs can be pictured as balloons. Have the child breathe in deeply, filling the lungs (balloons) to capacity and extending the stomach. Inhale to the count of three…Count to three once more while holding that breath…Then exhale to the count of three. See the balloon growing smaller and smaller. Repeat this twice more, three times in all. Preceding any meditation and in times of stress-before tests in school or whenever inharmonious feelings arise-this simple breathing exercise can be beneficial to anyone of any age.
Centering and deep breathing may be lengthened-count to five, seven, etc.-as the sessions continue, according to the respective ages and the regularity in which meditation is practiced.
GUIDED CREATIVE IMAGERY
After centering, young children are ready for a creative visualization-see examples below. Continue in a comfortable position, with eyes closed (or open). Choose only one visualization for each separate session. Make up new ones together. After experimenting with different visualizations, a particular pattern, or type, may emerge that will become a guide for more in-depth meditations. Allow these to develop naturally; do not be in a hurry.
Eva Fugitt, in He Hit Me Back First!, recommends, “Remind the child that guided imagery uses that part of the mind that creates, imagines, dreams. [Try saying to the child:] “Everything that happens in the imagination is all right, so don’t take time to think about it, just let it happen and experience it. If you don’t like it you may erase it in your imagination. Remember, you are always in charge. You are the creator. Later, after it is over, you may want to process it through that part of your mind that thinks and knows right from wrong.’
“With children, always make guided imagery safe, such as: ‘The rock is just the right size for you.’ (Choice) ‘The animal is a gentle one’ (purpose is for relaxation), and ‘on the other side of the stream.’ (Safe distance) ‘it can trust you’ (self-worth, transpersonal quality of trust evoked).” Visualizations that allow choice avoid fearful situations.
More advanced and older children may only need a seed-thought: a word or phrase that inspires an expanded intuition or new concepts while in the state of meditation. Seed-thoughts can be colors, rainbows, scenes from nature, geometric shapes, concepts, etc. (a sample list is given below).
At the end of the visualization, reacquaint the child with the environment, the room, body sensations, sounds, etc. Remain seated and calm. Parents may hold the child’s hands while eyes are quietly opened. This quiet time can be ended with a thoughtful poem, prayer, song, OM or amen. It is most important to allow children freedom to share what they experience. Accept whatever they say as a valid expression of their meditative experience.
- Always align oneself before attempting to meditate with children.
- Realize the importance of commitment to the dedication of establishing a daily/weekly schedule of quiet time.
- Encouragement, gentleness, patience and freedom of expression are important factors to keep in mind when introducing meditation or any new discipline.
- Be free to allow the child to use imagination.
- Sometimes a brief sharing before a meditation will let the child express a problem or something troublesome. Be creative, let them take that problem symbolically into meditation. They may be able to find their own solution.
- Always refocus the child’s attention into the present physical environment.
- Sometimes allow a child to lead the meditation.
- It is very important to accept the child’s own expression of the meditative experience. Any form of evaluation, whether critical/ judgmental or not, could lessen the value of the meditation for the child, dampen the child’s enthusiasm and/or hinder the child’s future creativity.
A CENTERING MOVEMENT
The following centering movement may be explained before hand to the child, by interpreting the light, or allow the child to discover what he/she experiences. Begin in a standing position. End centering by having the child sit, in a chair or cross-legged, with their palms up, resting on their knees-in preparation for creative imagery.
…Raise your arms overhead, straight up, palms together.
…Visualize a ball of light between your hands.
…Spread this light over yourself as you lower your arms until they are outstretched sideways.
…Bring that light into your heart by folding your arms and placing hand over hand on your chest.
…Bring this light once more outside yourself as your hands and arms open up-parallel to the ground-radiating this light to others.
SUGGESTED CHILD’S MEDITATION OUTLINE
- Deep Breathing
- Guided Imagery or Seed-thought
- Refocusing into the present
- Song, prayer, OM, amen
- Sharing-if the child is willing
The following are examples of guided visualization. They may be used as is, expanded upon, shortened-however you choose. Remember to end the visualization gently and reacquaint the child with the environment.
A TRIP TO THE WOODS
(Children sit quietly with eyes closed, listening and visualizing the guided imagery as directed by parent or teacher. At first most children are reluctant to close their eyes. Gently encourage them, assuring them they’ll be able to experience more if they do, but it is okay if they need to keep the eyes open. It is the degree of self-confidence and trust that permits them to close the eyes. By the end of several sessions they are comfortably closing their eyes.)
…(Begin in a quiet voice by explaining:)
…Today we are going to take a short trip. We are going to use our imagination, that part of our mind that sees pictures and can create. We’re going to take a trip to the woods. As you breathe quietly, imagine that you are walking down a path in the woods. It is a friendly woods, a lovely day. The sun is shining and you feel it on your skin, warm and comfortable. A gentle breeze blows on you, feeling fresh and good. The sun sparkles on the leaves of the trees. The air smells oh, so good, a woodsy scent. The earth feels firm under your feet and you rustle the leaves with your feet as you walk.
…As the path curves, you come to a lovely stream. It is cool and inviting.
…You sit on a rock, just the right size for you,
…and look at the water. It is sparkling in the sun, bubbling and singing as it tumbles along. You could easily wade the stream if you wished.
…But you continue to sit on the rock, with your feet comfortably dangling in the cool water.
…You take a deep breath and simply enjoy it. The sky is blue above you. All is silent and peaceful.
…You watch a leaf float gently down from a tree and glide and twirl in the stream.
…You hear the birds singing and rejoice.
…You feel very good deep down inside you. There is no pressure for you to do anything. Everything is just right. You can stay there as long as you wish.
…As you look around, you see a deer come out of the woods across the stream and walk to the edge of the water. It pauses and looks around.
…You sit very quietly, looking across at this beautiful deer.
…You think loving thoughts about it and silently, in your mind,
…you send it reassuring thoughts that everything is okay and you are its friend.
…It stands there, quietly returning your look and seems to know that it can trust you. It dips its head and takes a drink.
Then slowly and quietly looking around, it returns into the woods.
…You continue sitting there for a while, just feeling good about yourself, about the beauty of the deer, and the woods, and just good about everything.
…You know that you are okay.
…Now, in your own time, quietly return up the path from which you came and return to the room.
…Be aware of our body sitting in the chair,
…and your feet touching the floor.
…Hear the sounds in the room.
…When you are ready, open your eyes.
From He Hit Me Back First
…See a light, a round ball of light, floating above your head. This ball is like a small sun…bright and shining.
…Keeping your eyes closed, move this sun…up…and back down.
…Let this sun grow even brighter in color.
…Now picture a beam of light reaching out to each one of us.
…When this light touches you, feel it surrounding you like a warm blanket.
…Feel its warmth.
…(Wait a few seconds-5 to 30.)
…As you open your eyes, continue to feel warm, secure and happy.
ENCHANTED LAND MEDITATION
…Imagine a bird…a colorful bird.
…See it fly way up in the sky.
…You can be that bird,…
…what do you see?
…high up in the clouds…
…in a tree….
…in a bird bath.
…Fly to a secret place…
…an enchanted land.
…What do you see?
…You can bring something back from the enchanted land.
…Fly home with it.
…Now that you are home, what is it?
…How can you use it in your life?
CIRCLE AND DOT MEDITATION
…Concentrate on the center between your eyebrows inside your head.
…Now in that center put a dot…
…and around that dot put a circle.
…You are the dot and the circle is the world around you.
…Notice what color your dot is…
…Notice what color your circle is.
…Now put love in your dot with you.
…Fill your dot with love.
…The more you love the bigger your dot gets…
…Until it is one with the circle.
…Now look and see what color the circle is.
…Has it changed?
…Is it the same?
Meditating with Children
…Imagine that your body is weightless…from your toes to your head.
…You are as light as feathers…even lighter than a single feather.
…Imagine being so light that you can float in the air.
…As you rise up into the sky, look all around.
…(Allow a minute or so for staying there.)
…Now return to the room.
…As you open your eyes, remember the feeling of lightness, that you’re like feathers and can fly to many places.
WHITE LIGHT MEDITATION
…Imagine a beautiful waterfall of white light entering through the top of your head.
…Now it is pouring into your face.
…over your chin…
…down your neck and chest…
…down your arms and hands.
…The white light flows into your stomach…
…Now it is entering your feet and going out through your toes.
…Now you are a waterfall of white light.
…Every part of your body is filled with white light.
…Stay in this peace for a while…
…concentrating on the white light.
Meditating with Children
…As you open your eyes, remember the feeling of lightness, that you’re like feathers and can fly to many places.
…(Following deep breathing…)
…Visualize a tunnel.
…As you enter the tunnel, notice its walls and the surroundings.
…At the end of the tunnel is a doorway.
…On the other side of the door is an answer to a problem.
…Continue to breathe deeply.
…As you approach the door, get the feeling of knowing that someone will be there to help you.
…As you place your hand on the doorknob, allow a peaceful feeling to fill your body.
…On the other side is someone that can answer your question.
…When you see that person…
…present your question.
…(Allow a short silence.)
…Thank your guide for helping you.
…As you come back to the room, you will feel alert and happy.
Beyond OK, Win Wenger.
…Picture the color red.
…See it fade to orange.
…Now see the orange become lighter and brighter until it is yellow, like the sun.
…Let go of yellow as the color green grows in brightness.
…The green changes into blue.
…And into the color of violet.
…And into white.
…These are the colors of the rainbow.
…What do you see at the end of the rainbow?
…It can be anything, let it be something very special for you.
…(Concentrate on this for a minute.)
…What feelings do you receive from it?
…What color is it?
…(Allow time for creating a clear picture.)
…As you prepare to open your eyes imagine how it would feel to share that gift…
…(Upon ending the meditation, allow time for sharing in detail what was seen.)
All are God’s Children
I am One with God
The Universe Is One
*He Hit Me Back First, Eva D. Fugitt, 1983. B.L. Winch and Assoc./ Jalmar Press, 45 Hitching Post Drive, Bldg. 2, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274.
*Meditating with Children, Debrah Rozman, 1975. University of the Trees Press, PO Box 644, Boulder Creek, CA 95006.
*Beyond OK., Win Wenger, 1979. Psychegenics Press. PO Box 332, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.
*Had You Been Born of Another Faith, Marcus Bach, 1961. Prentice Hall, Inc., Engelwood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
*The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Alan Cohen, 1981. Eden Company, South Kortright, NY.
*The Family Centering Book (1979) and The Centering Book (1975), Gay Hendricks. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Engelwood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
*Mandala Coloring Pad., Janet Wright Izard, 1973. Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY.
*The Family Unconscious, E. Bruce, Taub-Byrum, 1984. The theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, IL.
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