As a mother it didn’t take long for me to see how important it was to set a good example for my children. And I’m not just talking about how I treat other people or what comes out of my mouth. In fact, what I notice as most influential are regular daily personal habits, such as staying active, what foods I eat, and self-care.
Although I am no meditation guru, I do value those quiet moments of self-reflection and peace I try to steal away from the business of the day. As my children have grown and become more independent, they have naturally been curious about why I do the things I do, and I have found that including them in my daily meditations answer those questions much better than trying to explain it.
Meditation and Its Benefits
True meditation can be done in various ways, but all practices involve ‘settling’ yourself physically to better allow your mind and body to fall into balance with one another. Some people like to empty their minds completely, while others allow thoughts to drift through their consciousness, as it is a very personal practice.
This state, when incorporated into a regular practice, helps relax the mind and body and allows a harmony to occur. This is a very healthy way to help ease anxiety and depression, enhances self-awareness, lengthens attention spans, and promotes emotional health- all strengths to better your overall health.
How to Incorporate Meditation into Family Time
If you are wondering how in the world you can possibly get your children to sit, much less be still and quiet, you aren’t alone. Most people who meditate can’t begin to imagine how to influence their active offspring to give it a try, but the following tips may have you change your mind. Remember, kids like to mimic the adults in their lives, and good meditation practices begin with baby-steps anyway- allowing you to slowly introduce this concept into all of your lives no matter what age of your children.
1. Allow Your Children to Be Present
Before teaching your children to follow any structure of meditation, allow them to be present while you meditate. It may not be your deepest meditation when you do so, but most people avoid their busy children while they meditate, which takes their children out of the loop of observation. Set simple rules such as not to ask questions until you are done, and meditate in short bursts to allow them to question what you are doing if they want to do so. You most likely will see them start to mimic what you are doing before too long.
2. Use Sound and Scent For Cognitive Recognition
Play quiet, instrumental music or use a nebulizer for oils to introduce the same scents into your meditation atmosphere. Your body will begin to recognize these outside stimuli as peaceful and calming with regular use, and help prepare the mind for quiet meditation. This can be very helpful for beginners and young children alike.
3. Start Slow
Anyone new to meditation will tell you that it takes time to get used to sitting quietly and emptying the mind. These practices come by starting slow and building up to longer periods of time. With children you are working on introducing them to the concept, so start them with practicing stillness for only a minute or two at first – taking into account their age and capabilities of course. Many adults find 5 minutes to be a long time when they first start, so keep that in mind.
4. Make a Mediation Center
Make an area specifically for meditation or other quiet practices, such as reading. This can be a small corner of a living room, or a landing space between floors that goes to waste yet is big enough to utilize. Having an area set aside for calming practices is another way to create a safe, quiet environment that is recognized and respected by household members.
5. Create a Routine
Meditate at the same time everyday. Even if you love to do so each morning before anyone else is awake, you can always add in a short 5 minute meditative practice with children when they return home from school, or right before bed each evening. Creating this habit makes it part of a regular routine that becomes something to look forward to.
6. Allow Mediation to Be Personal
Don’t hold the same standards for your children as you do for yourself. This is a personal practice and you don’t want to ruin the experience by requiring everyone to it together in exactly the same manner. Rather, teach everyone to respect the time and either sit quietly until everyone is finished, or remove themselves respectfully. Young children may do well by holding a parent’s hand in silence.