We hear a lot about the wonderful physical, mental, and emotional benefits of meditating, but actually managing to get kids to meditate can be hard work.
After loads of trial and error, I've found a couple of things that work for me that I'd like to share.
Firstly, timing is key.
We don't want to break into the full swing of the day with a period of forced quiet. Natural transition times work best; such as after a meal, between daily activities or before napping or sleeping. Find a time that works well for you and then make it a ritual. Kids begin settling down in meditation more easily when it becomes a natural part of the rhythm of the days. Take advantage of good weather when you can and meditate outside.
Next, find a good segue into getting comfortable.
Going from running around to sitting quietly goes more smoothly with a movement to take you into it. A few simple "Simon Says" moves can get a whole group focused and down into seated position.
Make meditation an adventure.
All children are different, and all children are different on different days. Make it clear to your kids from the outset that each time we meditate, we are going to try something new. Explain how it is new every time for both adults and kids and that it will be a kind of adventure for everyone. It's not a pass/fail kind of activity, and it's an experiment for everyone. Try new varieties of meditation all the time; you can even try moving meditations if necessary.
What works one day might not work the next, I find that even as an adult I am constantly adapting and changing my meditation practice depending on my mood at the time.
Exercise your imagination, or find an app to do it for you.
There are no rules to meditation, it's all about quieting the mind and releasing habitual thinking. There are so many ways you can do that. Focus on a sight or sound, listen to your breathing, make up a visualisation.
But... if you're not feeling particularly imaginative or you simply want to join in too, use an app to help out. I've tried YouTube (ads are a problem), and various apps as Sleepo, Smiling Mind and Headspace. These can all be great, but for sheer variety, nothing beats Insight Timer.
Insight Timer is free and can be used on phones or online. What I like best about this app is you can choose from meditations based on the amount of time you have... So when you're reading the room, and you know full-length meditation isn't going to fly- there are plenty of 1-3 minute options available.
You can find Insight Timer here: https://insighttimer.com
Have a discussion of your experience after each meditation.
Make it a group discussion. What worked for you? What did you like/not like about that style? What kind of thoughts and feelings came up for us?
This is often the best part of the experience, and the things kids can tell you about what they are learning is gold! Not only is it empowering and a great way to share and bond, it does what mindfulness and meditation aim to do. To be aware of your thoughts and feelings and make choices for yourself about what works for you.
I'm late to the meditation game myself and have always found it hard to take time to stop and be still. But developing a meditation practice with my child has taught me a lot about the many different ways we can create an exciting and nourishing meditation practice.
If you would like some free meditation music follow the link below. Scroll down the page to download the music we made to go with our Yoga adventure book. The music is still free even if you don't own the book!