Breathing in: I am a flower
Breathing out: I am fresh
Breathing in: I am still water
Breathing out: I am calm
Breathing in: I am a mountain
Breathing out: I am strong
Breathing in: I am space
Breathing out: I am free
Variation on Thich Naht Hanh’s meditation for children.
Over many years of teaching meditation to mothers I’ve continually heard them say, “Now that I have children I have no time to meditate.” Mothers today juggle keeping a home, raising children and, more often than not, working outside of the home. This leaves little time to take a bath let alone sit in meditation! What little discretionary time they have they want to spend with their children. With this in mind, Hearth began a new series on Meditation with Children. This course is designed to meet three needs at once; to explore new ways to meditate, to share meaningful time with our children and to be in community with other families who are also meditating in their homes.
There are two things that bode well for families that meditate with their children. One is that mom’s are apt to take care of their children’s needs before getting around to their own. In light of this, we can find our meditation during time spent with our children. Children are natural meditators. Give them the tools and watch them work! Then there is the matter of respect between parent and child. When we meditate with our children we are acknowledging their spiritual intelligence, which elevates the relationship to a position of friendship and mutual respect. This is of great value, especially as our children become teenagers and young adults.
In the west we have come to think of meditation as sitting, and for some walking as well. While sitting we can become quiet, our attention becomes delicate. Quiet meditation helps deepen our awareness when we sit for stretches of time, especially when we sit with an authentic teacher. But sitting quietly is just one way to practice awareness. In fact, the Buddha said there are four positions one can awaken in; sitting, standing, lying and walking- a poetic way to reveal that awakening can happen anytime, anywhere. This includes in the midst of our busy days.
We can’t create a problem free world for our children, no matter how hard we may try. Life can be capricious and filled with betrayals, illnesses, and unkindness. But we can provide a place for our children to remember their true glowing nature even amidst life’s slings and arrows. Meditation can see us, and our children, through whatever life throws at us. It can help us deal with anger, sadness, confusion and other natural aspects of being human. Another beautiful thing about giving our children the gift of meditation is that once the gift is given no one can ever take it away from them. When we teach our children to meditate we are giving them tools that will serve them their entire lives. Our children carry this powerful tool with them wherever they go. So do we. If we nurture the gift, it continues to grow.
To encourage family meditation Hearth is offering a five week course on meditation with children. This course offers a number of different approaches to meditation. There is not a lot of reading, just some words for inspiration. These practices can be found in other places. What we hope to add to the mix is community support for families wanting to meditate. The practices are the paints, your home and family are the canvas. You create the pictures.
As a final gesture of generosity we share our experiences with other families, our questions, triumphs and challenges. The only commitment required for this class is for you to try the practices with your family, post at least once each week and enter the series with the intent to support your fellow classmates. If you would like to sign up for our next group contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Come join us!