Doesn’t it seem as if mindfulness has become the new buzzword in mind/body/spirit circles?
Where once we had gratitude journals and other gratitude practices, we are now mindfully eating and breathing our to awareness of the here and now.
Why? Perhaps we’ve finally realised that rushing through life on auto-pilot doesn’t do anyone any favours – individually and as a society.
I mean, have you ever made a half hour drive to the office and not really remembered the trip? How many times have you gone to do a chore at home only to find that you already did it a few minutes ago?
Considering we each only have a finite number of days on Earth it seems a shame to not really be present for every moment we’re awake.
We are also opening up more to the idea that living in the moment is a requirement for inner peace. People who live in the past or who only think about the the future are missing out big time on the joy available right here in the present moment.
As an adult I am well aware of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, but as a parent I couldn’t figure out how to introduce these practices to my son. My biggest concern was that he would think it was a crazy idea, or that meditation was a complete bore.
If this sounds familiar, or if you’re currently thinking about introducing meditation to your child then read on. You are going to get tips, resources and insight from a professional meditation teacher that will make kids’ meditation seem just like child’s play.
I first met Alison Hutchens, a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, when she started kids’ mindfulness classes in my neighbourhood. I enrolled my young son as he’d been struggling for some time with over-excitability. Normally I’d say that’s just part of being a child, but in this case it was starting to affect his sleep (it was a miserable time for the poor chap).
Thankfully it was easy to get his buy-in to join Alison’s mindfulness classes. I think it may have had something to do with the name: Zen Warrior classes!
After four weeks of Alison’s mindfulness classes my son showed some really surprising changes. For example, where he used to loathe mandarins my son now says they’re one of his favourite foods (hooray for Alison’s mindful eating exercise).
He also seems much more aware of his emotions and can express what he is feeling in a more constructive way.
Another benefit is he’s finding it easier to unwind and go to sleep at night now using some of the relaxation techniques he’s been taught. The “Breath With Teddy” guided meditation is one of those techniques and is available for download below. If you’re child still has a teddy bear then they’d be just the right age for this exercise.
To share this knowledge with other parents, I sat down with Alison to talk about the importance of mindfulness for children, and how parents can introduce meditation practices to their children without it seeming too ‘woo-woo’ or, even worse, boring!
I am extremely passionate about sharing the gift of mindfulness in our community. When you understand that the mind, body and energy are all inter-related you strengthen your opportunity for a life of vitality and happiness. For me, there is nothing better than inspiring and empowering my students to become aware of their unlimited potential.
After actively meditating for nearly thirty years now and I can honestly say that I wish I had learnt to meditate from school-age. Studies show how beneficial meditation is for your health, stress and ability to manage your emotions – all of which are key building blocks for turning bright eyed kids into happy and healthy adults.
In my “Zen Warrior” classes for young children and teens, I teach meditation in the same way that I teach the adults. The only difference is children have a shorter attention span so I have to have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep them focused. So in our class you will find lots of games and interaction within the group which makes it lots of fun for the students.
The mindful meditation techniques we use in my class teaches the mindfulness skills to maintain a healthy, happy mind. The children practice mindful movement, mindful breathing, mindful eating, as well as a gratitude practise which is always a joy to experience.
Students also learn about the incredible power of the mind, how to manage their emotions and how to be compassionate as well.
Meditation and mindfulness for children doesn’t have to have a spiritual element to it at all, and the mindfulness practices I’ve suggested above are fun and enjoyable for kids of all ages. The sooner you introduce your child to the ‘going within’ concept of mindfulness, the sooner your child will experience its benefits – which will last a lifetime.
Are you planning on introducing your child to meditation? Are there any ideas here you think will help?
Let us know in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!
Alison is a fully certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher and has been teaching meditation classes for more than 10 years. She is an accredited member of the of Meditation Association of Australia (ATMA) and a member of the International Meditation Teachers Association. She is also a registered Energetic Medicine Practitioner (AcuEnergetics), NLP Practitioner and Professional Coach (London Coaching Academy). Alison can be contacted through her Mind Body Energy website.
Kate Barton is a Sydney based ‘lightworker’ – a person who intentionally works to bring healing, love and light to the world. A lifelong student of metaphysics Kate also publishes Basking In Light, a website and online community sharing uplifting news, inspirational true stories and accessible tools for self empowerment and soothing. For more information on Basking In Light visit www.baskinginlight.com or see Facebook page facebook.com/baskinginlight.