Meditation can be hard for a lot of people. Especially in a modern society that is always going, going, recharge, going…You get the picture. Meditation is not separate from yoga, though – it is yoga. It is just as important to practice meditation as it is to exercise and do the physical poses. Some yogis would argue that meditation is more important. Kids, as energetic as they are, actually pick up mediation fairly easily when it is presented to them in a fun and unique way. It usually isn’t enough to just tell them to sit on their mat, close their eyes, and not think of anything. Most adults have trouble with the concept of thinking of nothing!
One of my favorite things to do is come up with “Meditation Stations” to inspire still moments and encourage trying out meditation like an obstacle course. Stations make the practice more manageable and do-able. Sometimes the thought of remaining completely still for an hour or more can have us giving up before we even start. We have things to do, we might get bored, we are human after all (says your mind)! There are different ways to meditate and the option of creating mini-meditation stations allows us to take breaks and use different techniques. One might resonate with you more than others, and that’s okay!
- Sparkle “Galaxy” bottle-This is a fun craft that produces one of the best meditation tools for younger ones. It’s a great activity to make together and it can be customized to your child’s preference of colors. If you Google “how to make meditation bottle”, you’ll find a ton! It’s also a great way to reuse any plastic bottles you may have. To use for meditation, shake the bottle dispersing the glitter/sparkles all throughout and watch them as they settle. It can take some time but kids don’t even notice that they are sitting still! Not to mention, it is just a pretty thing to watch!
- Candles, like the sparkle bottle, can be excellent tools for meditation and it is different enough from the bottle that it doesn’t feel like you are doing the same exact thing. After all, fire is mesmerizing to humans! You can encourage them to watch how the flame flickers large to small. Have them try to imagine their breathing like a flame. Inhale big, exhale small. Repeat. Of course, if you have really young ones around, you might want to wait on introducing candles
Note: both of these meditations are called Tratak, or “fixed gazing”. The basis of the practice is to stare silently and in stillness at the chosen point. Get creative and find other things at which to gaze! (Here’s a blog that explains it)
- Coloring book stations with mandalas, photos of nature, and overall positive imagery is a type of moving meditation, but is no less valuable. The mind becomes simultaneously focused and unfocused, such is meditation. While coloring, thoughts dwindle to one and they become spaced apart; however, there remains the subconscious thought “to color”. The difference is that it doesn’t interfere, pester, or otherwise excite the mind. Breathing becomes slower and the physical body becomes relaxed.
- Walking meditation is another good option to have towards the end of the “course”, if you arrange the stations that way. You could all walk together or you could have a rather large area designated for walking meditation. Similarly to coloring, the brain doesn’t have to work too hard to think or synthesize thought – the body just walks. It is important though, that while you walk, you shift your awareness to your feet touching the ground. It is especially beneficial to practice this on the grass to feel that connection between our humanity and nature.
- Lastly, a guided meditation while lying in savasana is a great way to end the course or to use anytime! You can read poetry, a story, or write a meditation of your own. Great guided meditations have vivid imagery that inspires, comforts, and rejuvenates. Kids need a bit more concrete literature than adults as they aren’t quite adept at language and symbolism as adults. Animals, flight, feelings all make for good topics that even the smallest can understand and appreciate.