A few months back I started to become acutely aware of my stress levels and the impact this was having on my health and if I am totally honest, my relationship with my husband and my boys. As a teacher it seems to be a part of the job, that we accept the work load and ridiculous expectations put on us without question and just live a life that is so full of stress it is no longer fun. I had reached my breaking point and something had to change, either my job or the way I handled my role of teacher, mother, wife and also trying to be an individual in my own right. So I made a few changes, one was yoga, which I started 7 weeks ago, and the other was to be open to mindfulness which I am still working on but the benefits are slowly starting to appear and I must admit I feel more able to cope with the stress of life. Whilst I was making these life changes for myself, in an act of complete coincidence, I was presented with the question “Do you encourage your children to meditate?” to which I had to admit that no I do not. What followed was an offer to send me a meditation for children book to review of which I was very grateful and promised I would try it out with the boys.
Now I can honestly say this is something that would not have been of interest to me a year ago, in fact if I am brutally honest I may well have scoffed at this very notion that anyone should even need to encourage your children to meditate and assumed it was just more mumbo jumbo and yet another way to con people out of money or make them feel guilty for missing something from their own parenting styles but like I said the timing was impeccable and as I was starting to embrace meditation into my own life I figured it made sense to introduce it to the children’s routine too and so I awaited it’s arrival.
Why should we encourage our children to meditate?
Encouraging our children to meditate shows them that it is an acceptable activity to try. It gives them permission to discuss their feelings and acknowledge their own stress and worries and admit they need to take some time out. By introducing meditation to your children you are giving them the tools they need to be able to slow down, take time out and calm their brain something lots of children do not appreciate or understand how to do. Meditation requires practise, even for adults, so meditating with your child or encouraging them to do it on a regular basis and not just as a one off be more likely to result in the benefits commonly associated with meditation.
What are the benefits of meditation for children?
There are a number of benefits of meditation for children and these include
- getting to sleep easier and sleeping more peacefully
- improved attention
- increased ability to focus on the task at hand
- improved retention of information
- ability to become more creativity
- improved mood
- managing their own stress.
The children’s meditations In my heart book review
The book “The children’s meditations In my heart” by Gitte Winter Graugaard arrived about a week after our initial conversation and is just beautiful. Even the colours on the font cover are calming and make you want to read it, however I was still unsure how the boys would take this and wanted to check it out myself first.
The book starts with an introduction to the parent, explaining how best to use it in order to see the benefits of meditation with children and is then divided into 4 different practices
I fill my heart with love
From my heart, I send love
My could is full of love
With the Universe, I share my love.
Each practice is written with the intention to be read to child who is relaxed and preferably able to close their eyes and allow their imagination to take hold of the words you speak, whilst their body and breaths respond to the rhythm of your familiar voice.
When I read these alone I thought they were stunning, the idea is wonderful but the images the words create are truly beautiful and peaceful and focuses on the importance of love. Both the act of loving others and ourselves and knowing we are loved. Something not all children are blessed with unfortunately and it did make me wonder whether my boys truly know they are loved or if “I love you” is just a sentence they hear us say so often it has lost meaning.
And so I decided to introduce this book to the boys.
I settled the boys in bed and started with practice one, I fill my heart with love, and they giggled and wiggled and kept peeking at me when they thought I wasn’t looking. So much so that we re started the book 4 times, the last time after an impromptu trip to the loo for the tiddler after page 3!
The fourth attempt however was a little better. The boys had got over the giggles and were able to keep their eyes shut and joined in with the breathing exercises. I could see that my eldest was taking it seriously and could visibly see him relaxing, where as the tiddler, who is 4, was still a little restless and had to hold his eyes tight shut. But then I guess he normally gets to look at the pictures when I read so this was a little different. At the end of the meditation practice I naively thought the boys would drift off to sleep effortlessly but this was not the case as my eldest was desperate to explain to me everything he had seen and how the words and created these pictures that he wanted to tell me all about it, which was ridiculously cute but bed time had now taken well over an hour!
We left it for a few days before we tried again and the second time was much easier as they knew what to expect and wanted to close their eyes so they could revisit their own creations. Again it wasn’t an instant recipe for sleep but it was a much calmer bed time and they both drifted off soon after I left the room.
The idea of meditation for me is still something I am working on myself and appreciate that it takes time but it is certainly something that I am now going to build into the boys lives using this book as our starting point because it makes meditation as effortless and as beautiful as it can be.
I highly recommend that you take a look at this book in more detail if you want to encourage your children to meditate or you want to start exploring mindfulness with your child as it’s a great starting point to see if it is something that could be of help to your family. If you have tried it I would love to hear what your first impressions where.