The practice of meditation or mindfulness requires training, time and perseverance. For children, starting to meditate can be very fun and useful, although we must look for activities adapted to their age and abilities. Therefore, below we propose some simple onesguided meditation exercises to do at home with the children.
Mindfulness or meditation is based on attention, more specifically on mindfulness to what happens inside and outside the body. To achieve this, it is necessary to train and work that very thing, attention. For children between 5 and 12 years old we can carry out the following activities.
The goal of meditation is not to practice just a few moments a day. Rather, what we must look for is that we can carry it out from the moment we get up until we go to bed and, in this way, that it becomes part of our way of acting and relating to the world.
Therefore, the first mindfulness exercise that we propose has to do with something that we do every day at all hours, without being aware of it: breathing. What if we start to notice how we breathe?
1. The breathing
Breathing is a fundamental part of the practice of mindfulness. We are not normally attentive to our breathing. However, it can restore calm to us and bring us to the present moment and that is why it is important to focus on it.
Children can use the help of breathing very well in moments of nervousness, for example, before an exam, if they have to expose a work at school, before an important event in their life, etc. Breathing can help you calm down in distressing situations.
With children in bed for example, we can invite them to observe how they are breathing. To do this, we must look at aspects such as:
- With which part of the body they breathe more, if with the chest or with the gut.
- We can also observe if the whole body moves and how it does it.
- If the pace is hectic or slow.
- We can take the opportunity to show that when we are calm we breathe with our belly, slowly; and when we are nervous we breathe with the upper part of the chest, quickly.
Starting from this, we can teach children to breathe in a relaxed way. Find a quiet place and practice calm breathing. Sitting like the Indians or lying on the ground, with your hands on your stomach and chest, focus on your breath, breathe slowly and just think about your breathing.
We can also make a paper boat and put it on the gut if we are lying down. With this, we can observe how it moves and try to move it more and more slowly: taking in air and filling the gut (the boat goes up) and releasing the air slowly (the boat goes down).
This exercise can help us calm down when we are angry, nervous or distressed or it is difficult for us to concentrate, for example, on tasks. We can also ask children at different times of the day to pay attention to their breathing. When they are playing or doing homework or when they have just come up from the street to play with friends to be aware of how they breathe in different situations.
Here is another guided meditation exercise that can be very useful for children. It is also aimed at children from 5 years old.
2. Practice mindfulness with the senses
This is an exercise for children to become aware of their senses and focus their attention on them. It is a very used activity when we start in the practice of meditation.
To carry it out, you have to ask your children to imagine they are aliens and that when they reach Earth they find a tree with fruit that is unknown to them (we give them a grape, an orange segment or whatever we have at home). They have to observe it as if it were the first time they have seen it. And we are saying:
- Look at it and notice its shape, its color. Does it look like something you know?
- Close your eyes and touch it with the fingers of the other hand. Is it smooth or rough? Rough or smooth? Does it slip or stick?
- Wear it close to your ear. How it sounds? Does it make any noise? Crackles?
- Now bring it to your nose. What does it smell like? It is nice? You like?
- Now put it in your mouth. Put it whole in it, without biting it. Once inside, move it between your tongue and the palate. Take a very small bite. Only one. What do you feel? Shake it up a bit, taste it. Take another bite. And other.
- Finish eating it. So, gently. Very good.
- And now, have another as you normally would. Do you notice any difference?
It's about putting your full attention on what you see, smell, feel, hear, or taste.
The possibilities of guided meditation exercises for children are very varied. Here are other activities that you can also do as a family.
3. Hidden objects
A series of objects are placed on a tray. Next, we ask our children to look at them carefully. After 30 seconds, we cover these objects with a blanket, for example. The children have to write what they have seen or put their hand under the cloth to touch the objects and without seeing them, guess what they play. By being recognized by touch, they will be able to answer questions about what they have seen.
4. Way home
This is a game designed for younger children. It's about looking at the things we see on the way home from school. Every day one more thing. One day we ask them for 5 objects, the next 6, and so on. This exercise will help them pay attention to details around them that often go unnoticed.
This type of exercise, like the previous game, helps focus attention on the senses or in what surrounds us or happens. Since meditation is based on mindfulness and that is why it is important to train this aspect.
5. Cloudy water
We fill a bottle with water and add a little dirt or glitter to it, something that shakes the water when shaking the container. We sit on the floor and shake the bottle and put it in front of us. We observe that after shaking it, the water is cloudy or dirty and therefore what is on the other side is not clearly visible. But if we let it rest, in the end the water becomes clear again.
The same thing happens to us when we get angry or overwhelmed or worried. This is a basic exercise to make children see that when we are like this, we do not see clearly the solutions to problems and for this it is necessary to calm down. How? Paying attention to our breathing.
6. We move like crazy
With this activity we practice calming down after an activity or a stressful or hectic moment.
Sitting on the floor or standing in the room we move our palms to the rhythm. If the pace is fast we will move very fast, with large and exaggerated movements. If the pace is slow, we will move slowly. It is important be attentive to the rhythm to adapt to it. When we stop clapping, we will stay still. We finish the game with a slow pace and relax.
This activity helps children to 'listen' to their body, reflect on how they feel when they go very fast and when they go slowly. They also get rid of excess energy and helps them calm down when they are very excited.
These are some of the activities that we can do at home with our children, but there are many more! The ideal is to do them with them, guide them in the activity, share that time with them and never impose it as an obligation. Surely with time and dedication we will see results and we want to practice more and more!
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