As more adults turn to meditation for peace and balance in their hectic lives, more children are being introduced to this ancient practice to help deal with stress, and have a more peaceful outlook.
Here are some simple meditation exercises kids can try, provided by Stephanie Clement, owner of Stillness Yoga and Meditation Center (stillnessyoga.com).
Look at clouds: On nice days, go outside, lie on your back in the grass looking up at the sky. Focus, begin to notice, the clouds in the sky. Talk about the different shapes and sizes. Notice how they just drift through the sky moving in and out of view…. appearing and disappearing. Just simply watch the clouds in the beautiful blue sky. The blue sky isn’t bothered by the clouds, the sky stays the same vast, clear, open and free even as the clouds move through the sky. This is how our thoughts work… thoughts float in and out of our minds just like clouds… thoughts appear and disappear. Come and go. But our mind just like the great blue sky is always clear, open and free. Allow your thoughts to just come and go knowing that your mind is amazingly clear and free just like the sky.
Mindfulness jar: Take an 8-ounce Mason jar and colored sand (you can find at a craft store). You can have different colors representing different things: Red is our thoughts, blue is our feelings and emotions. Fill the jar with water (the jar of water is our mind) and then add the red sand (our mind holds our thoughts), add the blue for feelings and emotions (our mind holds our feelings and emotions). Now shake it up… the sand will start to swirl and the water will get cloudy from all the sand (thoughts, feeling and emotions) sometimes we just need to sit and relax and allow our thoughts and feelings to settle. As we watch the jar what happens to the sand? The sand begins to float to the bottom and the water starts to clear again. Let’s try it once more just watching the sand settle as our thoughts, feeling and emotions settle just like the sand. Breathing easy as we watch everything become clear and calm.
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Mindful listening: Sitting comfortably, bring out a bell, chime or anything that makes a simple sound that will carry when struck. Allow the children to hold it in their hands, feeling and hearing its sound as you ring the bell, chime, etc.
This time, ring the bell and have the children listen very carefully – paying attention from the very first moment the child hears the sound of the bell all way to the end. When the children can’t hear the sound anymore, they open their eyes or raise their hand. You can first try it with eyes open and then with eyes closed.
Positive affirmations: One of Clement’s meditation practices for older kids who are between 9 and 13 includes pressing a thumb on each finger (on the same hand) one by one, by saying affirmations such as “I am strong.” “I am confident.”