“But mum, I’m bored. Can’t I just play on the X-box instead?” Yes, that’s what Jason, my son, always said before we’d go for our daily dose of a walking meditation. Until I realized that I was doing it all wrong. So, how do you introduce walking meditation for kids?
Meditation is a way of achieving mental clarity and emotional calmness through focusing the mind on a particular thought or activity. It dates back to India, as early as 1500BCE among the Buddhists. This tradition has now gained momentum among most cultures as the benefits have proven to be way too many.
Other Common Types of Meditation
Body scan or progressive relaxation
Breath awareness meditation
I prefer the walking meditation since it is easy to learn and apply with the little ones. Because the current generation has grown up hooked to gadgets and the Internet which have had adverse effects on them, we need to correct that. The ‘Television Nanny’ for instance has robbed kids of their innocence at such a young age. There is no better way to heal and correct this situation than introducing them to meditation.
First and foremost, walking meditation for kids is one of the easiest forms that children can start with. Since walking is the main technique of achieving focus here, it should be easier for kids as young as 2 years to master. My little Jason picked it up after just two weeks of practice.
How to Perform Walking Meditation for Kids
This is best practiced in a quiet place free from any distractions to enhance mental calmness and emotional awareness. We do it in the park when traffic is minimal. It is easier for the kids to achieve calmness and harmony within a short span if well guided. And they also enjoy the cool breeze, vegetation, and everything else that nature has to offer. Encourage them to take off your footwear for optimum experience. Remember that the goal is to achieve calmness and total awareness.
Now take slow relaxed breaths together and help your young one do so. Our usual routine starts by momentarily closing our eyes and enjoying the air as we breathe. I then ask my boy how or what he is feeling at that moment.
At the back of your mind try to answer the following question during this meditation period: “Is the child now aware of their immediate surrounding? Do they notice any calming effect?” And you can also ask them directly if they are old enough to understand.
Guide your loved one in making slow informed steps. Do not rush it. Step by step walk with them and teach them to feel the pressure on their feet. Does the child feel it? That is how you can tell for sure if you are in this together.
Moreover, children will live for the simple interesting things. Make the process fun. Jason and I sing Sponge Bob Squarepants’songs while at it. And he loves it. Kids are more likely attracted to fun activities. And if you could integrate a little fun into meditation then you sure will win over your little one.
A Gentle Reminder
With kids, you need to constantly check that the little one is alert and present in the moment. Take a ‘royal stroll’ with more slow steps and feel the inner you. What is the child feeling? Ask them. Can he/she feel as they lift their leg off the earth?
Their attention naturally might wander off at times. But hey, do not scorn them. They are just kids. Monitor them and help them back to the present moment whether they have been away for ten minutes or just a second. Just like training a puppy. Well, except this puppy is your adorable sweet little angel. Do this for thirty to forty minutes. But after some time you can integrate this meditation into simple activities such as errands or your usual walk to the mall. If you make it fun the kid should find it easy doing it on their own.
Simple Meditation Techniques for Kids
So how then do you get your child to take onto meditation? It is not an easy task at first but once they pick it up then it should be a ride in the park. The following strategies did the trick for me:
- Keep it Simple. Philosophy is not a field any kid will venture into. At their age, they do not need to understand the complexities and modus operandi of meditation. I noticed that relating the walk with the simple surrounding improved focus.
- Curiosity. Kids are by far the most curious creatures. Frequently asking my son how he feels strengthens our bond and he is less bored.
- Do not compel them into it. Yes, let them be. My son was not into meditation initially but I realized that forcing him was not the best option but rather working together as a team. I stepped down to his level, just a little bit, and that worked for me.
- Make it a norm. We have made it a habit to meditate every Friday and Saturday evening. I was surprised that he still meditates even when I’m not around.
- Nature Watch. This is the beauty of it all. Ask them what they see. Visualize the experience. Not a minute passes without my boy asking me to name a certain bird or just random objects. “Mom look, that parrot is pecking at us.”
- Chant and sing. Recite mantras and sing their favorite play songs. This takes the monotony out of the whole walking meditation for kids.
Benefits of Walking Meditation for Kids
- Meditation helps reduce anxiety and hyperactivity among children. They are better equipped at dealing with stress and handling other situations in life. Studies have shown that children exposed to meditation at a prime age grow into healthier adults.
- Brain development. Meditation helps kids mature mentally and even their concentration span is increased. My son’s performance in class has steadily shot up and I have meditation to thank.
- Self-control. Meditation has an effect of turning kids into fully grown rational individuals. Chances of them making asinine decisions or actions for that matter are almost impossible.
- Self-esteem. Children attach a greater sense of self-worth and even associate more openly with their parents. We relate more closely with my son than we did before.
- Reduced panic disorder. Children who meditate are better equipped at handling whatever difficult situations they may face in life.
- Children who meditate handle pain better and also mentally strong thus decision making is no tall order for them.
I started meditation with my boy when he was 6years and seeing the many perks I only wish I’d have started earlier. However, kids will not always respond positively to meditation at first but be sure to take them at a friendly pace and soon enough they will pick up. Walking meditation for kids is one of the simplest forms of meditation and if done properly the outcome won’t disappoint you.