Last year, each morning before Niamh and Philly started their school day, we asked them to spend 10-20 minutes meditating. Over the course of the year, they used different Youtube videos and apps to listen to. Once in a while, we’d sprinkle in a podcast they’d listen to over the course of the week in 15-minute segments. We did this for two reasons: to build a meditative practice and to begin each day relaxed and present.
Mediation can be a frustrating word for many. It’s like we sort of know what it means, but when we try and put it into practice, we feel lost, confused, or just plain bad at it. Kids, on the other hand, I find are naturally good at it. They have not grown accustomed to all of life’s limits just yet, so meditation is something they can sink easily into if given the space and encouragement to practice.
For myself, meditation allows me to be fully present, even just in glimpses, during my day. Hearing and seeing the word “presence” in overload these days gives us Presence Fatigue. It is so prevalent that we almost don’t know what to do with it. How can we live in the moment? How do we stop worrying about the future and obsessing over the past? Am I really present if I’m trying super hard to be present?
Every moment is like a bubble— you know the bubbles our kids blow from the little plastic stick? Most of them pop within a couple seconds. Our daily moments are like these bubbles; little, sudsy wonders that last only for a second or two. But we all remember blowing bubbles as a kid and creating the Freak Bubble— the one that bounces off the grass blades, across the lake, or even over the pavement. It has a little extra soap across its edge, fortified for the trek across yard and pond. We chased it— laughing and screaming at every non-popping bounce.
Our meditative practice can create these lingering moments in our day or week—these wonderful spaces where time is kind of lost and our experience feels like we are standing on the threshold of what underlies everything. Like the bubble that lasts 20 seconds instead of 2, we find ourselves more available to timeless moments that invite us into deep gratitude and beauty. We are finally present, or “in the moment.”
We hardly ever stay here for very long, certainly not for days or weeks (the bubble eventually pops). These lingering moments are gifts, treasures to be curated with a faithful practice. This pattern of daily meditation is even more a gift to children. It is like they are starting the race with a huge advantage, a head start. To raise mindful humans, we should be inviting them into practices that create a fabric of joy, peace, and yes, even struggle. To enter adulthood as a present human being is a rarity.
I want to list a few ways that you can set yourself up for success as you try to step into meditating or guide your kids into a practice for themselves. The best part of it? Meditation will look different for everyone. It is a personal practice, and you should feel free to experiment, let go of what doesn’t work, and never feel like you need to imitate someone else.
Ideas to Make Meditation A Success
Set your space up like it MATTERS. Comfy cushions. Essential oils in a diffuser. A soft blanket. A weighted blanket. Darkness. Candles. Our spaces make a difference in how we feel. Pay attention to the details.
Are you a type-A person? Tightly wound? Mind can’t settle? Thirty goals that need to be crushed today? Take a walk, child. Literally, just go for a 30-minute walk. On a trail. Through the neighborhood. On a track. What matters is that you allow some of the tension deep in your body an avenue of escape (exercise), but are doing it in a slow-paced, gentle way that still allows for a meditative state in your mind.
Try a group meditation class if you feel lost starting out on your own! Most yoga studios offer these classes.
Try a guided meditation. I especially love these for children. (Here is the Youtube channel I turn to most for the kids.) End your day with a sleep mediation. Start the morning with a mediative app. Whatever works, but do not be afraid of a little guided help!
Do not force yourself into a box. Try listening to a contemplative podcast. Read a chapter of a self-help book you picked up and then think about its concepts for 10 minutes afterward. Listen to calming music or nature sounds. Keep your eyes closed. Or wide open. Sit. Lay down. Walk. Even run. Whatever makes it a beautiful, personal practice, do those things.
Whether you are just beginning to meditate or are hoping to start your children down this path, feel encouraged that it is a truly customizable, creative endeavor… one meant to nurture your mind and create present moments where you feel more alive and in harmony with reality. You will also feel extra benefits like less anxiety and increased focus.
Let me know if you already practice and what your mediation looks like in the comments below! Mine is a walk or run usually, as I am a tightly wound individual who needs that movement to calm my mind into relaxation! What about you?