Children are natural meditators and have an easier time at it than adults They are able to meditate amongst noise and, if distracted, can get back into it. When given the instruction, time, and space, their expansive imaginations take off, painting vivid imagery, hearing sounds, and getting in touch with their feelings. Meditating as a family can increase harmony, decrease stress, and strengthen the family bond.
Children as young as five years old can be introduced to meditation and are able to practice meditation on a daily basis. Gently encourage children of any age to meditate, by talking about it, by making it a special time during the day, and by making it fun. For younger children, there are books about meditation that can be read at story time. Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lea MacLean is one such book. With older children, talk openly about your meditation experiences and how they make you feel, etc. Invite your child or children to meditate with you. A good time for this would be before bedtime, making it part of the routine, or in the morning before heading out the door. Set aside not more than 20 minutes, taking ten minutes for the actual meditation and leaving ten minutes for discussion or time to draw or write about their experiences.
When introducing meditation to your children, it is important to have it defined for you. Encourage your children to explore and come up with their own definition for themselves and then share yours, being careful to keep the concept open. Explain that there are many ways to meditate and many positions you can mediate from: sitting, lying down, back against the wall, etc. The bottom line is to be comfortable. Allow for exploration of the different positions as what works best for one person may not work for the others. Another key factor, especially for younger children, is to allow for them to quietly move about during meditation time. Children respond well to guided meditation that allow them to experience the meditation with their senses whether that is sight, sound, feelings, knowing, or touching. A useful book that has meditations geared toward children but very useful for adults too is Sensation Meditation for Children by Sarah Wood Vallely.
You may also make up your own guided meditations. Creating special meditations that include the interests of the family members makes it interesting and fun. If the children in the family are older, take turns guiding the meditations so that everyone gets a chance to experience the time from different perspectives. This will keep everyone involved in the group process.
Best wishes for your family practice!
This article was originally published in 2012.