Finding Focus: Meditation for Beginners
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Close your eyes. Imagine a warm liquid oozing out from the crown of your head, spilling down your back, and coating your skin. Feel it wash away your fears and worries...
Adults practice meditation for different reasons: to gain control of the mind, to dive deeper into a connection with their inner self, or to let go of the material world, says Karen Stepp, a yoga instructor and hypnotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Your child may benefit from meditation, too. “Regular meditation brings peace and calm to us no matter what age we are,” says Stepp. “It teaches us to disengage from the spiral of internal self-doubt and messages that we are bombarded with in our society.” Your child lives in a world of imagination and visualization – a state that is best for learning and unlearning, says Stepp. It’s easier for her to tap into her subconscious, where her memories, beliefs, and “deeper, more spiritual layers” reside.
Still, the concept of meditation – and its benefits – may be unclear, particularly for your little one. “To a young child, I might say that meditation is a way to slow down, to get really quiet, and to find that still, quiet place inside of them,” says Stepp. Your child can discover who she is, and learn about herself, by listening to an inner voice.
Because children are naturally active, sitting still and silent may be challenging. But “they find it refreshing to get out of our rule-driven world of boundaries and slip away into a limitless world of endless possibilities,” says Stepp. “Ask a child to dream something up – to close their eyes and imagine a place where anything is possible – and now you are talking their language.”
According to Sarah Wood Vallely, the author of Sensational Meditation for Children: Child-Friendly Meditation Techniques Based on the Five Senses, children are fascinated by everything from the clouds in the sky to stories on TV, but they are most captivated by their own thoughts, as well as creating images in their head – a process that can foster concentration. If your child has trouble sitting still, have her study an object, such as a ball, for instance. Ask her to examine its size, texture, color, and shape. She can then close her eyes and keep thinking about this ball, which teaches her how to gain control of her mind. Using guided imagery gives a child permission to create without limitations, says Stepp.
Eager to try quick and simple activities at home? Below are introductions to Wood Vallely’s techniques, which are starting points for longer meditations. (You will find scripts of some of these meditations on her website at www.sarahwood.com.)
Release energy down your grounding cord. This meditation brings your child into balance with the earth and is a fitting activity for when she is angry or frustrated. While closing her eyes, she takes deep breaths, relaxing a different part of her body with each exhale. She imagines a cord connected to the bottom of her tailbone, which goes down into the floor, continuing through the ground to the center of the earth. Your child, feeling attached to the center of the planet, imagines energy particles she doesn’t need moving out from her head, down her body, and down the cord.
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