Let me start by saying that I am NOT an expert when it comes to meditation. I am a TERRIBLE meditator (my mind constantly wanders and I struggle to ignore itches) but with practice I am getting better at quieting my mind. After months of meditation, I find myself calmer, less anxious and better able to tackle daily stress.
Meditation is often a scary concept for people, I know it was for me. I put off starting because I thought you needed absolute quiet, a special meditation space and lots of time to meditate. Every time I’d try to meditate I would struggle to quiet my mind and thus give up. I still struggle to quiet my mind most days but this is normal. Our minds will wander and when they do, we bring them back to the breath. Meditation does takes practice but you do not need a lot of time to fit it into your busy week.
Meditating with children can be a wonderful way for the whole family to spend some time unplugged. Meditation helps everyone to take a break, clear their minds and focus on the present. This helps everyone to improve attention, and deal with stress and anxiety. Children are so open to learning new things and if you make meditation engaging, they will learn this valuable skill when they are young and thus carry it with them into adulthood.
My children love to know the WHY for everything. A counselor once explained to me that the reason everyone needs to practice deep breathing and meditation is to get rid of air-poop. What is air-poop you ask? It is the carbon dioxide that can get trapped low in your body, if you are breathing very shallow. This air-poop can cause feelings of anxiety, anger, nervousness and frustration. The best way to get rid of air-poop is through deep breathing.
Remember to practice meditation with your children when they are in a calm state. NOBODY can learn to meditate when they are frustrated or upset. I once put on a guided meditation in the car when one of my children was flipping out and this only caused the child to become more frustrated. Once they have been practicing for awhile, the hope is that they will turn to their deep breathing when they are angry or upset.
Today I will be sharing some of the ways that you can practice meditation as a family. You can use these suggestions or get out coloring books and color to instrumental music, research breathing buddies or do a moving yoga meditation with COSMIC Kids. If you come at mediation with an open mind and try meditating along side of them, your kids will be more likely to try it out.
There are so many guided meditations out there for children. There are free meditations on YouTube, FREE Scripts that you can read to your children, guided meditations on iTunes, cds at your library or there are apps for your phone or iPad.
COSMIC Kids has FREE PEACE OUT guided meditations. Her voice is very soothing and engaging for children. COSMIC Kids has a wide assortment of meditations. There are meditations for both calm and focus.
Many of the FREE apps for meditation do not include the meditation for children, these are included with a subscription or extra fee. My family pays for the Meditation Studio App. We justify the cost because I use it daily and my kids use it a few times a week. I like the variety of meditations, topics and teachers on the app and that you can customize music or sounds behind the guided meditations. I do not like that you can’t use it on multiple devices.
Headspace is another app that has some free content but you must subscribe to hear the kids meditations. I loved using the free version of Headspace when I was just starting out with meditation. I love their free beginner course.
Making a glitter jar can be a fun and mindful craft for the whole family. Glitter Jars are like homemade snow globes to help children calm down, focus and deal with strong emotions. Children can grab their glitter jars during meditation time and watch the glitter fall as they breathe in and out. If you practice with glitter jars when children are calm, they can then use these tools when they are upset. Click HERE to learn more about Glitter Jars and how to make your own and make sure you super glue or hot glue them shut!!
Labyritnths have been used for thousands of years for mediation. Many labyrinths are used for spiritual purposes but you not need belong to a certain religion in order to benefit from a labyrinth. When visiting the coast of Oregon, we stumbled upon a group of people who regularly create labyrinths in the sand. We were each given a smooth stone to rub while we walked the beautiful labyrinth and watched the sun set. The entire experience was incredibly meditative and peaceful. Our kids were surprised at how much they enjoyed it. You can learn more about how to use labyrinths HERE.
We are blessed to live near by a physical labyrinth thanks to my dear friend Claire from Shifting My Perspective. If you don’t have access to a physical labyrinth, you can always use a table model. I have one that has sand and I trace my finger over the labyrinth while breathing deep and focusing on an intention or mantra. They also have balance board labyrinths for children who may have attention issues and need a physical activity to help them focus and meditate. We have one and it is not only a lot of fun but a great way for EVERYONE to focus and be more mindful.
I hope that this post has been helpful and that you are going to try meditation yourself or with your children. If you still are not sold on the health benefits of mediation, click HERE. And HERE is an article from Forbes about the benefits for children.
What are your favorite ways to meditate?