Quite a few years ago I signed up for this online meditation program. I was going to holistic nutrition school in Berkeley, California at the time and was drinking all the hippy dippy organic kool-aid I could get my hands on. Which, there’s nothing wrong with that.
My thinking was, I’m in Berkeley, I’m going to nutrition school, I’m going to the occasional yoga class, so of course I should have a meditation practice! From what I remember the program was two weeks long and gave you live online access to a variety of meditations and people from all over the world could join in on those meditations.
I was really excited because I thought-- this is it, this is going to help me start my meditation practice. I can do it at home, which is convenient, and I won't be interrupted by someone coughing or sneezing in a room somewhere and people from all over the world are doing it, so that’s pretty inspiring.
I vividly remember sitting down on my big comfy couch in the living room, the beautiful California sunshine shining into the window as I set up my computer to log in to the meditation. I got a couple of pillows and blankets to get really comfortable. I logged in and joined in on one of the meditations and I remember exactly what the meditation teacher talked about that day and the meditation she led us through.
Quick side note… I am someone who likes to be really good at something right off the bat. It's not my greatest strength and more often is a source of frustration. So, the meditation that I picked to participate in was for kids. I remember picking that one thinking, “If a kid can do it, I gotta be able to do it! Guaranteed success! Gold star for me! I'm well on my way to a solid meditation practice.”
However, that was also the only day I participated in that program because I also have a hard time sticking with things sometimes. But! I learned a little secret that day about meditation for beginners that I've come back to frequently, ever since. And by the way, I'm still very much a beginner!
The secret is… kid’s meditation is where it’s at, for beginners of ALL ages!
As adults we think meditation is about shutting off our minds and not thinking about anything. Let me tell you something, that is only possible if you’re dead. I’m sure you’ve also heard about acknowledging the thoughts and then letting them go. And well for me at least, that’s REALLY hard. When I have a thought, I don’t want to let it go!
The teacher for the kid’s meditation that day walked us through a simple breathing exercise where you simply inhale and think ‘I breath in peace’, and then exhale and think ‘I breath out love’. The idea being that you're breathing in peace for yourself and breathing out love for those around you. It's such a beautiful and simple concept. For someone like me this is great. I have something to think about and do. And yes, I am also meditating… at least calming my mind, releasing anxiety and tension. I still use this meditation every so often in moments when I feel overwhelmed, upset, unsure, or just a little bit off.
More recently I downloaded the Headspace app to my phone. After many recommendations from people who said they found it really useful. I tried some of the adult meditations and they were okay, but then I discovered there’s a whole library of kid’s meditations on that app. Those are my favorite! An added bonus now is that my 3 year old and I do them together on occasion. Andy, the meditation teacher, walks you through visualizations that are simple, fun, and still do the job. Even for adults, it helps you calm and focus your mind.
Sometimes my daughter gets silly during the meditation and sometimes we’re talking about what Andy is telling us to do or to focus on. And it doesn’t really matter. We’re being mindful together, without any outside distraction.
Andy Puddicome, is a former Buddhist monk and is the founder of Headspace. In his TED talk, All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes he says, “The mind is our most precious resource through which we experience every moment of our lives.”
When I’m doing a kid’s meditation with my daughter, I am definitely experiencing that moment in my life fully and mindfully-- even if I’m not sitting quietly, cross-legged, trying to get thoughts to just pass me by.
I’m certainly not a mindfulness expert and rather very much still a beginner. This is just what I’ve found works for me and if you’re at all curious about mindfulness and meditation maybe this approach could work for you as well. I’ve put links to some kid’s meditations on the blog and in the description below. Try them for yourself and if you have kids, you can also get them involved!
We want to hear from YOU! Have you tried meditating? What worked or didn't work for you? Or, what other ways do you find mindfulness in your life to release anxiety and stress?
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