“We have to meditate,” my husband said as he gave me the recent Scientific American with the article “The Neuroscience of Meditation” on the front cover. This game-changing article outlines the substantial benefits of meditation drawn from 15 years of research.
At a public talk in Boston that I attended, the Dalai Lama described his daily schedule of getting up at 3:00a.m. to meditate for three to four hours. Before bed, he practices another hour of meditation. He talked about how meditation helps him feel grounded and focused for his busy schedule.
My husband and I gave ourselves the gift of yoga teacher training right after we got married over a decade ago, but our meditation practice has come and gone throughout the years. Now, as working parents to a toddler, we are feeling a strong pull to make meditation a daily habit.
Funny enough, even though we know the things to do to live a happy and healthy life, we don’t always do them. And now that my husband and I are consciously seeking out resources to help us integrate mindfulness and meditation into our family life, we are seeing signs everywhere.
A few things that we started implementing right away:
- No iPhones in the bedroom, so as to start the day with no distractions
- Sitting in meditation for 15 minutes every morning
- Eating mindfully to savor and enjoy our food
- Celebrating “Lazy-Morning Sundays” to rejuvenate and reboot
- Listening to guided visualizations to help focus on breathing and calming our bodies
With great pleasure, I share the following mindfulness and meditation for kids resources that we have collected to help ourselves to be more calm, mindful, and peaceful parents so that we can share the gift of mindfulness with our daughter.
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10 Mindful and Meditation for Kids resources
1. Sitting Still Like a Frog
by Eline Snel
This mini-book is perfect for reading with a cup of tea while curled up on the couch. The book has so many delightful gems with practical ideas on how to parent mindfully, all illustrated by the author’s experiences with her own children. I love her approach of encouraging parents to adapt mindfulness techniques into our lives first, and then we can help our children to experience mindfulness techniques, as well, to help them deal with anxiety, improve concentration, and handle difficult emotions. The guided exercises spoken on the accompanying CD also aids in integrating these mindfulness practices into family life.
2. Planting Seeds
Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community
I first read Thich Nhat Hanh’s inspiring and uplifting Peace Is Every Step years ago when I was traveling in Vietnam and visited a Buddhist temple. Now, as a parent, I find Planting Seeds an invaluable resource for bringing mindfulness into our daily family life. Through mindfulness practices, stories from their community, questions and answers, cut-out resources, and a guided meditations CD, this book is a must-read for parents and teachers wanting to integrate mindfulness into their homes and classrooms. It’s perfect for filling with Post-it notes so you can come back to it time and time again. Another resource by Thich Nhat Hanh, A Handful of Quiet, is a mini-book that further details his four-pebble meditation technique.
3. Imaginations 2
by Carolyn Clarke
If you liked the first Imaginations book, then you will definitely love this one, too. These seventeen gorgeous relaxation stories are presented in a stunning layout. I love the separate parent and child introductions at the front of the book. Also, the yoga-prep poses and breathing games are a great resource. The relaxation stories of the four seasons are my favorites. The author (who is a dear friend of mine) has also included lots of fun themes that will easily integrate into your curriculum, such as garden, weather, butterflies, desert, and dinosaurs. You’ll love this fabulous guided imagery resource to help children bring calm to their busy lives.
4. Chime or Singing Bowl
We love the use of a singing bowl or chime to mark our meditation time or the time for bed. Both items have a distinct sound that fills the room with warmth and vibration. I find that these unique sounds help me to focus and remind me to live in the present moment. This is a gift that I can easily share with my young daughter, without any complicated discussion about the benefits of meditation. She just gets it and is intrigued by the sound.
5. Music and Chanting
Music has been a beautiful way to introduce our daughter to mindfulness and meditation. I listened to Snatam Kaur’s Grace album throughout my pregnancy to manage my months of nausea, so it wasn’t a surprise that as a newborn, my daughter was calmed by the sounds by her songs, “Ong Namo” and “Ray Man Shabad.” We also love listening to Wah! as background music when we are doing art exploration. And Jai Uttal’s Kirtan Kids is a great way to introduce children to the ancient practice of call-and-response singing.
Since her birth, I have sung the yogi promise “Lokah Samastah Sukhino” to my daughter before bedtime. It can be translated as “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” Now, my daughter chants the words with me. Just recently, I have taught her the Guru Mantra (Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru devo Maheshwara, Guru sakshat, param Brahma, tasmai shri guravay namah) to remind ourselves to be grateful to our teachers. These simple repetitions spoken in a soothing voice have become a nighttime ritual that we both treasure. It’s our secret bond.
6. Rainbow Walk
by Shakta Khalsa & Checka Antifonario
With their sweet, gentle voices, these two talented yoga practitioners guide listeners through eight relaxation stories that are perfect for 3 to 8 year olds. The calming background music is a beautiful addition to this delightful CD. The Thankfulness Bell Meditation (3:54 minutes) is a perfect practice during this holiday season to encourage children to take a moment to breathe, be grateful, and calm their bodies.
7. Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck
by Lisa Flynn
I attended the Yoga 4 Classrooms professional development course for educators in the summer and received the Yoga 4 Classrooms card deck as part of the take-home resources. The 11 purple Imagination Vacation cards have thematic mini-stories and mindful meditation ideas to read aloud to your school-aged children at home, in the classroom, or during a yoga class. The purpose of these Imagination Vacation cards is to introduce children to meditation by making a connection between their minds and bodies.
8. Calm Kids
by Lorraine E. Murray
This is an accessible and comprehensive book on meditation for children. It includes the definition of meditation, the benefits of meditation, how to create an environment for meditation, the different types of meditation, tips on teaching meditation to children, and how to practice meditation with children who have special needs. The specific meditation techniques for different age groups are particularly useful, especially when working with very young children. As parents and caregivers, we can model mindfulness practices with children from birth.
Mandalas are intricate, repetitive designs that help you to de-stress and unwind. I’ve found that coloring in a mandala is a relaxing and meditative way to sit beside my daughter during her free-art playtime in the morning. She dabbles a little bit in coloring mandalas, too, but most designs are probably better suited to older children. You could either do a simple search for free mandalas to download or buy a mandala coloring book.
10. Peaceful Piggy Meditation
by Kerry Lee MacLean
Peaceful Piggy Meditation is a bright, animated, and colorful book that uses pigs to highlight the benefits of meditation for young children. The pigs describe how to meditate and how sitting quietly can help us to have happier and more peaceful lives. The book includes instructions on how to meditate and how to do a mind-in-a-jar experiment.
What mindfulness or meditation for kids practice could you do today? Tell us in the comments below if you have any other mindfulness or meditation for kids resource ideas!
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