Sitting for the Common Good: Meditation Techniques for Kids

We've begun meditating with our children for five minutes every morning. Our boys are 5 and a 1/2 and 7 and a 1/2. Do they like this every morning. Not so much.

Does it benefit them? Incredibly so.

There are countless studies which show amazing benefits for children (as well as adults) ranging from increased focus and calm, to improved self esteem, improved eating and sleeping habits, stress reduction and more. There have been very impressive studies showing positive effects for kids in the autism/ADHD spectrum as well. More and more schools are finding ways to incorporate meditation into the classroom. Check out this article for more info on this.

I realized this morning, as my children sat mostly quietly but fidgety, that we have yet to really explain to them what meditation is and teach them some techniques. Even adults who've never sat (meditated) before in any formal way are apprehensive because they don't know any techniques. So I've decided to start a meditation technique series here. Hopefully, this will be helpful for folks and I love comments and ideas so feel free to participate.

When I taught meditation at a yoga studio many years ago, I noticed that people responded much better to guided meditations when they were just beginning to practice sitting. Listening to the sound of my voice and the picture I was painting for them helped to quiet their monkey mind. In Buddhist teaching "monkey mind" is the restless, distracting chatter that goes on in our brains so much of the time. When we learn to quiet monkey mind, calm settles over us and we experience the benefits of meditation.

So there are many techniques to quieting monkey mind and I now realize I need to teach a few of these to my children. I told them tonight I'd lead them through the rainbow meditation once they were tucked into bed and relaxing quietly. Feel free to try this meditation yourself or for your children or someone you love.

The Rainbow

Get comfortable, either in a seated position where the spine is nice and straight, or laying on your back, with limbs out and relaxed. Use a blanket if you need to. The point is to be physically comfortable so that you can focus more on the guided imagery.

Close your eyes and let your body relax as you begin to deepen your breathing. Take a slow, steady, deep breath and imagine it is filling your body from your feet all the way up to your head. Slowly release the breath, imagining that it is emptying from your head to your toes. Repeat this process two more times.

Open your mind's eye and see that you are sitting in very tall grass in a sunny field. You can see for miles over the grass and it sways in the light breeze, looking like waves on an ocean. The air is warm and comfortable, not too hot, not too cool. You can smell sweetgrass and the sun feels wonderful on your skin.

You stand up and notice the air ahead of you begin to shimmer. Before your eyes a complete rainbow appears. You can see the entire arc, from where it touches the grass near you to where it comes back to the earth farther afield.

You walk towards this amazing rainbow. Never have you seen one without rain nearby.

You step into the rainbow and magically you can see the colors! You stand in the red band of light. Everything is sparkling red and you feel warmth from this color. You let the color wash over you, breathing it in.

Next you step into the orange band of light. Everything you see is sparkly orange and it reminds you of fresh squeezed oranges. You take a moment to let this color wash over you and breathe it in.

The next color band is yellow. This bright glistening light draws you in with it's warmth and happiness.  Stand here and breathe in it's beautiful light and warmth.

Walking ahead now you enter a green band of light. Like brilliant emeralds, this light is crisp and energizing. You feel your heart beat with happiness and peace. Breathe in this healing light.

Move now to the next band of light, a brilliant blue, sparkling around you like the ocean on a sunny day. It's cool and comforting. Breathe it in, let the blue light fill your body.

A final color calls to you and you step forward into the vibrant indigo light. It's bright purple and just as sparkly as all the other light bands. You feel it's magical power, especially in your head. It sings to you and you feel comforted by it's vibrations.

You step out of the indigo light and now you are standing in brilliant white sparkling light. It's very bright but it doesn't hurt your eyes. You feel happy, peaceful, calm and like you never want to leave this place. You lay down under the white light feeling the warmth from the sun and hearing the breeze blow gently through the tall grass. Still smelling the sweetgrass on the wind you know you can come back to this calm and peaceful place whenever you want. All you need to do is close your eyes.

Take a nice deep breath, filling your body from your toes to the top of your head. Slowly let it out and feel it completely empty. Take two more deep cleansing breaths in this way.

Open your eyes. Remember now that you can return to this beautiful and healing rainbow whenever you need to.