Don’t we all wish we’d learned how to meditate when we were young? All adult meditators would agree. And yet how many meditating parents still haven’t found the time or the way to start with their young children.
The secret to success: Keep it Short. Keep it Simple. Keep it Fun.
Following is a simple and easy way to get started. But first, a few tips. Keep the language and imagery simple. Stay away from loaded words. Keep the meditation times short. You should participate in doing this exercise with your child. If there are others around who know how to meditate that the child likes, try to include them as well.
For example, while recently teaching a 3 and 5-year-old how to start meditating, I enlisted the help of Cait and her boyfriend, whom both children adore. They are both meditators and were able to act as visual anchors for the two children to watch to follow along and to also affirm that, yes indeed, this was something cool to do.
For parents, this is a guided visualization meditation that will show your child how to do a very simple deep breathing exercise. The great thing about it is that it can be done standing, seated, or laying down. Great for kids who need to be on the move, and even better for bedtime.
Step 1: Start by explaining what your child can expect.
For example, with the following Balloon meditation, I’d start by saying, “We’re going to learn how to do a fun Quiet Time exercise that will help us relax and feel good.” Keep it that simple.
Blow Up the Balloon Meditation
- First, let’s shake all our sillies out. (Jump up and down and shake limbs.)
- Let’s tense up all muscles in our body as tight tight tight as we can. (Trying to isolate body parts to tense and release at this stage is too much.)
- Ok, on the count of three we’re going to release all that tightness. 1-2-3 Release! (Do twice.)
- Now we’re going to relax our body by taking in deep breaths through the nose and slowly breathing out through the mouth. (Do 3 Xs)
- What’s your favorite color? (Ask everyone present and share your favorite color too.)
- Let’s all think of our favorite color and picture a giant balloon of that color in your mind.
- We’re going to start to take a slow, deep breath in through the nose to fill your belly up with as much air as you can. Expand your tummy as much as you can so we have lots of air to blow up our big happy balloon in our favorite color.
- Now we’re going to slowly blow all of that air into the balloon by blowing out through the mouth to release all of the breath from your belly into the balloon. (You can have them hold their hands up to their mouth in cupped shape like they’re holding a balloon to their mouth.)
- Ok, we need to add a few more breaths to get the balloon full, so we need to inhale and blow 5 more times. (Count as they make one inhale/exhale.)
- Mention how you can see all the balloons getting bigger and bigger with each breath.
- Now our balloons are full. Let’s tie them off (making a tying-off motion) and make a wish. Has everyone made their wish? Yes, okay, let’s let them go on the count of 3. 1-2-3 Go! (making a motion of letting go of the balloon.)
For the first time, keep the meditation exercise short. You can increase the duration as they get more accustomed. As they get more skilled, you can blow up several balloons. If this is done at bedtime, they can choose to tie the balloons to their bed, or you can have them make a wish on each balloon and release it. You can also have them put something into the balloon that they don’t want anymore and send it away, i.e. nervousness, a problem, etc.
Eventually, you can work up to your child doing this twice a day for 5 minutes at a time.