Quietening the mind is the aim and essence of meditation. It can be achieved easily but for most of us getting our minds to “be quiet” can actually prove quite difficult. Our society is fast paced, everything is instant, people and their minds are constantly “on the go” so switching them “off” can feel unnatural.
It is important to teach children early how to still their minds. This does not necessarily mean teaching them traditional methods of meditation (Deepak Chopra recommends formal meditation to start around 10 years of age) GUIDED VISUALISATION is perfect for school age children because it is just like listening to a story with the extra benefits of stillness. Certain children, kids with ADD, ADHD, anxiety or stress in their lives benefit exceptionally from meditation.
Here are some “Quiet Time“ tips to help children get used to quietening their busy little minds…
• Turn off the “technology,” all of it, this includes TV, video games, computer games and mobile phones (for older children) for certain periods of time each day.
• Do something slowly, a slow walk, some slow yoga stretches or even a miming game where you pretend you are in slow motion.
• Be quiet, have some “STILL TIME,” this might involve calming music, children can lie on the couch or even dance using peaceful movement. For really little kids (under 3 yrs) just some peaceful music while they play is enough.
• Use AFFIMATIONS. Choose an affirmation like “I am calm and still” and sit with your child/class for one whole minute just silently repeating this affirmation in their heads. The time limit can be shortened or extended to suit the ages and experience of the children involved.
• Use the breath. Breathing has long been used to quieten the mind. See our BREATHING article for a sample exercise.
• Be “Mindful”. Mindfulness is also one of the aims of meditation. It arises out of stillness and brings us to a state of presence. See our MINDFULNESS article for a sample exercise to use with children.
• Make sure they get enough sleep! Children aged 4-8 need 10- 11 hours per night, 9-12years need between 9- 10 hours per night. Try to avoid children using mobile phones, PC’s and laptops during designated sleep times and in sleep areas.
• Stop everything and say a little prayer or work on GRATITUDE.
• Draw a picture or do a jigsaw puzzle concentrating on small details.
Remember that children need time to get used to having “Quiet Times” and that often children (and adults) feel uncomfortable or silly when these times are introduced. My experience so far tells me to keep at it, that children and adults alike enjoy and benefits of having regular time to become calm.