Kids love nature and what better images to use for meditation than little animals. Many of us through life have come to enjoy the animated stories on the Technicolor screen, and the many books of animals talking and working out lessons for the common good.
Sitting meditation practice
To introduce children to sitting meditation you are going to be the model to emulate.
Everyone sit in a circle with you on a carpet or blanket, facing in to the center, with legs crossed in; hands clasped resting in their lap.
Next, ask the children to copy your special breathing. First explain what you are going to do such as: "We are going to breathe in and out evenly like a little puppy does while taking a nap. On the first count we breathe in (model the in breath), and on the second count we breathe out (model the out breath). Let's all try the even breathing now (let everyone try 3 sets of evenly spaced in and out breathing)."
Try to gear your explanations of the benefit of even breathing to the age group.
If your children are at least school age explain that even breathing like this calms them down when they are stressed or angry. And, that it is a good practice to use that no one else will even know they are doing - it is like their own first aid kit for regaining calm and control of themselves.
If you are working with preschoolers explain that even breathing, like a little puppy resting, also gives them a rest and time to feel better when they have been upset or crying.
Now, moving on to the sitting still portion of the meditation practice, ask the kids to close their eyes and imagine a special little talking dog out in the yard who is going to tell a story about the world.
The talking dog says that he represents all the animals of the planet and wishes all people to live in harmony with each other, the animals, and the environment, because we all depend on nature for air to breathe, clean water and food.
The little talking dog now sits down, curls up, closes his eyes, and asks the kids to join him for a few minutes thinking about how they can be kind and caring with each other, animals and everything on our planet.
By now, the children are probably all quiet and relaxed. When the group begins to stir ask everyone to follow you by taking a deep breath in, letting it out, standing up and stretching.
Remind the kids they can do this meditation anytime they need to calm down, or need some quiet time to work out any problems they may be having at home, school or with others.
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Article by Susan Helene Kramer