Meditation for Your Child | An Excerpt from The Magic of Meditation
The First Steps
Most parents think that children are too young to meditate. How can they understand something that even adults have difficulty with? But in reality, young children are closer to their innate nature, and they are at the age where everything is possible. This means that any child is capable of learning the basics of meditation.
Getting Acquainted with Meditation
However, let’s not go to the other extreme and think that your child is going to be able to find mental calm in just a few sessions. This is a project for a lifetime! The idea is to get your child acquainted with solid introductory practices to put her on this path. Children tend to take to meditation and they enjoy it because they sense its positive effects, and most of all, it’s fun!
Louise was a very agitated three-and-a-half-year-old. She scootered frenetically in the schoolyard and would run in circles around the couch at home. Her teacher described her as a “difficult child.” She had lots of little tantrums and cried at the least frustration. Her mother didn’t know what to do anymore—she was at the point of exhaustion. Every night, her mother or godmother would read Louise a story at bedtime. But this was not enough to calm her down, and she had frequent nightmares. She would sleep badly and, because she had not gotten enough rest, in the morning she would be more frustrated and agitated than before. It was a vicious circle.
“Come on, Grandma, let’s do the breaths.”
Louise was left with her grandmother for a month when her parents went abroad. After the first few days, the grandmother, who was feeling overwhelmed, began to wonder how she was going to keep up with this frantic pace for four weeks. The grandmother was a meditator with a regular practice, and she had experienced the benefits for herself. She started having Louise do three deep breaths in the meditation posture (with her legs crossed and back straight) every night before she went to sleep. She was astounded to see that Louise really took the whole thing seriously. She did her best to concentrate and would ask her grandmother if her posture was correct and if her belly was moving up and down properly. Every evening they did this exercise together—along with Louise’s little teddy bear. A few days later, Louise’s grandmother asked her if she had slept well, and Louise said, “Yes, I slept better.” One day about a week later, her grandmother was in a hurry at bedtime and was about to skip the three breaths. She was surprised when Louise reminded her it was time to do the exercise! From then on, Louise would take her grandmother’s hand and say to her, “Come on, Grandma, let’s do the breaths.” Louise had fun with the exercise, but she also could see how much it helped her. She was sleeping better and having better days at school. She was a much happier little girl.
Meditation Is Possible from Childhood On
Louise’s experience shows that it is possible to make a three-year-old child aware of the potential of meditation. Even if she stops meditating as she grows up, she’ll still remember the experience and will know that it is a way to soothe herself or shift negative states of mind.
Louise’s example shows that the role of the guide is very important. The practice was successful because her grandmother took the time to do the exercise with her and had confidence in the effectiveness of the method.
Louise’s example shows that the role of the guide is very important.
The fundamental role of parents is to provide their children with a solid foundation as they grow up. By providing them with the tools they need to train their minds, you will help them to be happy and build a calmer and balanced life.
Resources for a Lifetime
Providing an introduction to authentic meditation is a way for parents to share special moments—profound and creative—with their children. Using very simple exercises, parents can give their children a taste of meditation practice and help them develop the habit of meditating. Practicing these exercises daily will provide children with resources that they can draw on for their whole lives.
Using very simple exercises, parents can give their children a taste of meditation practice and help them develop the habit of meditating.
Dominique Butet is a kindergarten teacher in Paris, France, where she successfully introduced the practice of meditation to her young pupils.
Marie-Christine Champeaux-Cunin is a former entrepreneur in the micro-computer business, who came to Buddhism twelve years ago and now runs the Paris Drukpa Lineage Center.