Most people are curious about a child’s ability to meditate. Many adults can’t seem to find the time nor have the patience, so people wonder how could a child sit still long enough to meditate? Remarkably, children love to meditate. Meditation allows children to use their creative imagination without limitation. As a former schoolteacher and certified hypnotherapist, I’ve been working with children since 1991 and currently teach meditation techniques to children.
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with children who are creative, intuitive, physically and emotionally sensitive and nonconforming. Many of these children, also called Indigo Children, have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and bipolar disorder and are brought to me by parents who are looking for a drug-free solution. In most cases these labels are neither necessary nor helpful. If a child associates herself with words such as disorder and deficit, her self-confidence is affected and she may believe she will be defined by these terms for the rest of her life. However ignoring her symptoms is not the answer either. A child who is very energetic and has trouble focusing, is usually frustrated and unhappy and will benefit from alternative therapies.
Meditation has proven effective with helping children become more attentive, which begins with a child’s ability to focus on himself. Meditation is a time for children to explore their inner world. Children are fascinated with clouds in the sky and stories on television; however, they are most captivated by their own thoughts.
Many adults have trouble opening their inner mind to see the visual images useful in meditation. Children, on the other hand, are by nature visual and easily hold and explore their inner images. Having taught both adults and children how to meditate, I have found children to be the better students.
The facilitator of the child’s experience determines the success his meditation. Anyone can become a dynamic child meditation facilitator, whether they are a parent, teacher or therapist. The facilitator should be familiar with the most important benefits a child attains through meditation, practice and awareness. When a child meditates, he practices something in his head so later it is easier for him to carry out the particular action or feeling. Meditation also brings into consciousness thoughts the child is unaware of during normal consciousness.
Practice: something we do so we feel better later
When we practice a process in our minds, we are able to successfully repeat this process in the real world. Simply stated, we do something in our heads so we feel better later. This is similar to working out our body at the gym. We strengthen our biceps so we are able to lift a heavy box later. Likewise, during meditation Ashley practices how to let go of the angry energy in her body in a meditation. Then after meditating it is easier for her to let go of her anger when confronted with a conflict.
The most ideal practice meditations bring calmness and focus to a child. These meditations are quite grounding, that is they bring a child into balance with the natural rhythms of the earth, which results in physical stability and emotional ease. A child can practice these meditations absolutely anywhere, even in her classroom when she begins to feel distracted or frustrated.
For example, the Sleepy Cloud meditation helps a restless child bring sleepy thoughts into her inner mind, allowing her to fall asleep. The Flower meditation teaches children how to open up like a flower, allowing them to let go of specific fears and welcome new experiences.
Awareness: Seeing thoughts hidden deep down inside our minds
Meditation is also useful for bringing into consciousness a subconscious thought. For example, Keith practices a release meditation during which a picture of a frightening movie scene appears in his mind. When he shares this, the facilitator learns that this scene may be causing a fear he has been expressing recently. This awareness prompts a conversation about the scene, and coupled with more meditation brings peace to the child.
An effective awareness meditation is the Time Machine. Children are able to travel through time to the future, giving the facilitator an indication of how the child views his own future and the future of the world. Another example is the Tree meditation, during which the child sees a tree with happy and sad fruit. He nurtures his sad fruit in a special way; and consequently, both the child and facilitator better understand what actions need to be taken to help him out of his own sadness.
Meditation is a relatively big word for most children. This word is sometimes a foreign concept to adults and therefore can be intimidating to the facilitator.
However, it is a big word for something very simple! Moreover, there is no right or wrong answer for what meditation means. I define it as sitting very still, usually with our eyes closed and thinking about something on purpose, as opposed to daydreaming.
Before beginning a meditation, ask the child to close her eyes and think about what her bedroom looks like. When she opens her eyes ask her, If your eyes were closed when you saw the picture of your bedroom, then how did you see the picture? Performing this short exercise and participating in a discussion about it should alleviate any fears associated with not being able to meditate.
Next, explain to the child how people usually position their body during meditation. Then let her know any position is perfect as long as she is comfortable. She can meditate sitting up in a chair, lying down, or sitting cross-legged on the floor. Let her know it is best if her eyes are closed, and it might be easier if she puts her hands over her eyes to help keep them closed. Remind the child that she can meditate anywhere. In fact she can meditate for a few minutes in her school classroom without anyone knowing what she is doing. She can even meditate with her eyes open if she prefers.
The following meditation allows a child to connect with his male and female energies; however, I refer to the female energy as the Listener and the male energy as the Doer. Before beginning the Listener-Doer meditation, discuss the many different parts of ourselves: the part that likes to have fun, the part that likes to be sad, the part that likes to be loud, and the part that likes to be quiet.
The Listener-Doer meditation introduces the child to the part of himself that likes to listen. Not necessarily the aspect who listens to Mom and Dad, but the part who listens to himself. To better demonstrate this concept, place an object in front of the child. A stuffed animal or a plant is an excellent choice, as long as it is something he is likely to communicate with. Ask him to close his eyes and ask the stuffed animal a question. How does Teddy feel today? When he has heard a response talk about what he heard so he understands what is meant by listening.
This meditation also acquaints the child with the part of himself who likes to do things, such as walking, talking, yelling, and hugging. The Listener-Doer meditation encourages a quiet timid child to become more confident to act on his inner voice and helps a very active child to listen to his inner voice as opposed to acting unconsciously.
Take the child through this fascinating journey.
Close your eyes. You can put your hands over your eyes, if you want to. Take in a deep breath. Now when you breathe back out, feel your body relaxing. We’ll take two more breaths. Deep breath in, and relax your legs as you breath out. Deep breath in. Relax your arms and neck as you breathe out.
I would like you to imagine yourself in one of your favorite places. It doesn’t matter where you are, just as long as you like being there. I want you to see the Listener part of yourself playing with you. You might see this part of yourself as an animal or a special character or your Listener might look just like you, like a twin. While you are there with the Listener, ask him or her what it needs to be happy. (Pause) What did your Listener say to you? Is there anything you want to tell your Listener?
Now I want you to see the Doer part of yourself playing with you and the Listener. Your Doer might be an animal, or a special character, or might look just like you. While you are there with the Doer, ask him or her what it needs to be happy. (Pause) What did the Doer say? Is there anything you want to tell the Doer?
Your Listener and Doer have presents for you. See the Listener give you a present. If it is wrapped up, unwrap it and see what they gave you. See the Doer give you a present. If it is wrapped up, unwrap it and see what they gave you. Give your Listener and Doer a great big hug and thank them for being with you today in your meditation.
When you are done talking to your Listener and Doer, go ahead and open your eyes.
Discussing what the child experienced during the meditation is as important as the meditation itself. After the meditation, ask the child one or more of the following questions and assist her to understand what her meditation symbolized. What did your Listener say it needed to be happy? What did your Doer say it needed to be happy? What presents did they give you? Do you know why they gave those presents to you?
Art, writing and music are effective ways for a child to integrate a meditation into her world. Working on an art project allows the child to hold the memory of the meditation in her consciousness for additional time while she reflects on her experience. Additional ah-ha’s can be discovered during this process. Writing and music activities bring about the same positive results.
For a follow-up art project for the Listener-Doer meditation, have the child make puppets of her Listener and Doer and encourage her to use the puppets to continue to communicate with her Listener and Doer. These can be made out of paper lunch bags or socks. She can glue items on to her sock puppets or draw and color on the paper bags. Keep in mind, art projects can be as simple as drawing a picture of something she experienced during her meditation.
When I teach children meditation, I usually work with a small group of children. After the first year, I was amazed by the enthusiasm of not only parents but also those without children who were drawn to the idea of teaching children how to meditate. During almost every class, an interested adult or two would come simply to observe the phenomenon of children meditating. Due to these observers’ overwhelming eagerness to become a part of this movement, I created a comprehensive program to prepare adults to teach their own meditation classes to children. The Child Meditation Facilitator Certification program can be attended through The Indigo Network at www.indigonetwork.org.
I enjoy sharing my experience as well as the expertise of my colleagues with parents and educators who are seeking holistic approaches for their children. For this reason, I created The Indigo Network (www.indigonetwork.org) which lists numerous activities for children and is a meeting place for people who have been called to work with Indigo children. I also founded Indigo Grace (www.indigograce.org), a nonprofit organization advocating the development of learning environments that encourage self-expression and self-guided curriculum.