Creating a family meditation practice is much easier than you might imagine. And now is a perfect time to do so!
I know what some of you may be thinking. “No way, no how will my child sit still for a moment, much less to meditate. Family meditation? Ha!”
I hear you. I have two live-in wiggle worms myself.
One beauty of meditation practice is that it can be created unique to your own family, and it may not always look like what you would think (sitting still with eyes closed and a mudra is not required).
Most of the time my children are unaware that they are taking part in meditation practice, and the activities I have put in place for them range from mindful crafts to walking slowly in nature.
So, why teach meditation anyway?
I have seen meditation activities reduce anxiety in my own son and research seems to support my observation. At school, practicing mindfulness has been linked to enhanced cognitive processing, improved performance, and reduced test anxiety. Mindfulness activities can also enhance self-esteem, improve the quality of sleep, and teach emotional regulation.
It’s the season of gifts, right? I view teaching meditation as a gift as well. The value of sharing tools to navigate emotions and mental well-being cannot be underestimated. Starting these activities at a young age sets the foundation for a lifelong practice. Note: It is true that meditation and mindfulness are not exactly the same thing. True meditation (a clear mind) requires years of practice and I believe that mindfulness activities support achieving this state.
All you need to do to initiate your own family meditation practice is to share mindfulness activities regularly using the ideas below (or any other ideas you think of too!).
Family Meditation and Mindfulness Ideas:
Create a Peace Corner
Create a cozy space for your child to zen out after a busy day or even during times of emotional stress. Meditation cushions are fun, but any pillows will do. Choose a quiet space and consider creating an altar or spot for special items belonging to your children. Consider adding coloring pages or contemplative books on mindfulness, yoga, or relaxation. You could even designate this space for sitting in silence with older children.
Practice Mindful Mealtimes
One of my favorite ways to teach mindful eating is with the Raisin Consciousness developed by John Kabat Zinn. I have shared this practice with adults too, as it is a much-needed reminder to slow down and savor food in today’s hectic, fast food society. Any food will do for this meditation practice and it can be fun to try it with a small treat (such as a chocolate chip). Other mindful mealtime ideas include expressing gratitude before eating or chatting about the five senses during a meal.
Share a Walking Meditation
This activity can be done anywhere, but is especially nourishing outdoors. Set a timer to walk with your children in silence for at least 5 minutes. You may choose to have them focus on a variety of things, from how their feet touch the earth to their own breathe. Sometimes I encourage this practice with an accompanying mantra for each step—“I am present, I am peace.”
Read a Loving Kindness Meditation
You may choose to guide your children through a loving-kindness, or metta, meditation with the help of a script (you can easily find one online). These meditations encourage children to send kindness to themselves, to others, and to their community.
Make Mindful Moments
This one is a lot of fun! I started the practice of chiming our singing bowl throughout the day which has become an invitation to stop, drop, and take a deep breath. Any member of the family can encourage a mindful moment whenever they feel one is needed.
Give a Guided Relaxation
Help your little ones wind down at bedtime by reading a guided relaxation to them. My favorites are those that encourage relaxing one section of the body at a time from top to bottom.
Paint and Pause
This idea I learned from the teachers at the amazing kid’s yoga studio, The Little Yoga House. You will need a Buddha Board or a piece of construction paper, water, and a paintbrush. Encourage your child to create a picture on their board or on paper and then offer sitting in silence for 3-5 minutes as their image fades away.
Photo: Aaron Amat/Shutterstock