Have you tried guided meditation with your children? I don't meditate as often as I would like however I know it would be a useful skill for my children to learn. Guided meditation is simply a way of helping (or guiding) the child through the process.
Recently I wrote about relaxation and meditation with Otis. This is just one of the ways we do this. We have for a long time enjoyed Thich Nhat Hanh's Mindful Movements. I decided to have a look at some of his other resources including A Handful of Quiet. We don't use the DVD in Mindful Movements however the book along with A Handful of Quiet I consider essential.
A Handful of Quiet gently guides you through the process of drawing meditation and pebble meditation. And please don't think a three year old can't do this. It requires quiet, peacefulness, it requires you to invite the child when they are calm and well rested, but a usually rambunctious three year old can do this.
Meditation can be taught to children. Over time they improve and start to do it on their own. It requires practice.
The book and subsequent meditation is based on four images in nature. Flower, mountain, calm water and space. Each image embodies a particular quality. All of these qualities are those which I desire for my children.
Below Otis is painting a mountain during the drawing (painting) meditation. A mountain represents solidarity and stability.
Caspar and I meditated together while painting water. This was extremely special for me. My painting is the top and Caspar's is below. Using water colours seemed extra beautiful and calming. Calm water is beautiful. When water is still it reflects nature as it really is. When we learn how to mindfully breathe in and out, we are like the still water.
For the pebble meditation each child has four pebbles. Each pebble represents one of the images. The children made their own pebble pouches (instructions are in the book) from a circular piece of fabric, decorated with drawings with fabric crayons. Caspar and Otis used a needle and yarn to sew around to the top of the pouch so that they pull the yarn to close the pouch. Now they have special pouches to contain their pebbles.
Pebble mediation is a way of bring peace to my children. It was invented as a tangible way for children and families to return to their breathing and and connect with the world around them. Below the children are (almost) siting in the half lotus position and I lead the meditation using the pebble meditation cards. I read out each card and have the children form the image in their minds and guide them through the in-breath and out-breath words. Truly delightful.
This form of guided meditation is also a way for me to introduce concepts such as solidarity, freedom and some of the other qualities discussed.
Two other books that I enjoy with Otis include the The Listening Walk and Silence. Both have taught Otis to focus on what he is hearing or to listen with purpose. When we are silent we can often hear our breath, we become still and calm.