Meditation with Kids

Children are Psychic

By Susan Hull Bostwick

IMG_0773Meditation and children has a strange ring to it.  There are ashrams in California that devote considerable amounts of time teaching children the disciplines that their parents follow.

At a publicized psychic healing event at Santa Rosa’s Veteran’s Memorial children were in the hallway cross-legged impromptu teaching each other meditation skills.  Their parents were participants inside.

At a tiny playgroup in Sonoma County 2 1/2 – 6 year-olds sit daily in a meditation circle and learn how to communicate, how to heal and how to be centered.

Children in Tibetan, Yoga, and Sen groups around the Bay Area sit with the Master and are taught to be still. They are given the same basic lessons that older members of the community are given.

On the surface it appears to be a harsh discipline.

Yet, many children might just be longing for a form of discipline that lays down hard rules – a dichotomy to a permissive society.

After 10 years of meditating with children, I have discovered that normal children will do whatever an adult is doing if the adult is:

  1. relaxed in his own space
  2. enjoying himself
  3. not laying any guilt trips or any trip on the child.

I started meditating with children at Dudley Stone Public School in San Francisco (you call them Concentration Exercises then) when I was interested in sitting Za Zen and had started doing some sitting myself.  The kids, first graders, would sit atop their desks, legs crossed, eyes closed and just sit.  I discovered the ability to get my whole class of 25 to do this if I did it with them each morning before our usual “circle.” I would sit on my desk and close my eyes and maintain total silence.  They were so suprised the first time I didi it that they followed me.  That began our first ritual.

Later I was into Tai Chi and also taught it to my older students as a morning meditation.  Again my total involvement in doing it for myself plus silence was the real teacher.

Children will also meditate at home if their parents meditate.

It’s a little like praying in a church.  Church is set up for praying and there are all kids of consequences for not praying or maintaining silence.  There are also a lot of adults in agreement with a pretty strong code of behavior that works.  Do you have to set up a home chapel to meditate? How do you start on this path of meditating with your child?  Here are some suggestions for beginning:

  • Pick a comfortable spot.
  • Define your own meditation.
  • Meditate in front of your child – non-resist his energy.
  • If the child bothers you offer total silence then tell him you are meditating and don’t want to be bothered.
  • Casually invite the child to join you — no demands.
  • Decide on the consequences of the child bothering you and stick to it.

There are all kinds of things that can happen when you start to meditate in front of your children.  They may not like the fact that you are doing something private in front of them and not including them.

It takes time for any child to become accustomed to a new routine.  At any age, it is the adult present that teaches the child.  Doing it is the teacher.  And a child will follow if the mediator is aware of what he is doing, is consistent, and is enjoying the process.

What age can a child be taught to meditate?  I have done it with 2 year-olds and 12 year-olds in school classrooms.  If you are interested in starting some meditative process and you are around children, try sitting in a chair, close your eyes and talk to the God of your own heart.