Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness practices are popping up in school systems nationwide—and for good reason. Studies have shown that teaching kids mindfulness practices can build students’ attentiveness, respect for fellow classmates, self control, and empathy, all while reducing stress, hyperactive behavior, ADHD symptoms, and depression. In addition, grades are shown to improve for students who participate in mindfulness programs.
Giving kids the tools to help them fend off negative thoughts and behaviors, build self-confidence, focus, and treat others and themselves with respect and appreciation is a gift they will have for the rest of their lives.
Coloring is one form of active meditation. The movement in coloring is slow, focused, and provides enough concentration to reduce random thoughts outside of the project at hand.
If your child wants to talk a lot during color time, reward them for their quiet time attempts. Reassure them you’re looking forward to hearing all about their creation once the quiet time ends.
Pay attention to the colors your child chooses. Do they tend to use the same two or three? A good discussion to incorporate into coloring meditation practice is how the colors align with the Chakras.
Guided Meditation: The Balloon
This guided meditation brings a visual component to a very simple deep breathing exercise. You can do this standing or seated.
- Relax your body and begin to take deep inhales and slow exhales through the nose.
- Start to take a slow, deep breath to fill your belly up with air, as if you’re trying to blow up a big balloon. Expand your belly as much as you can.
- Slowly let the air out of the balloon (through the nose) as you release the breath from the belly.
- Encourage your kids to feel their entire body relax each time they exhale, each time air is slowly being released from the balloon. You can even make a “hissing” noise to encourage them to slow down the exhale even more, “Like letting air out of the balloon.”
- Continue for several minutes.
Sing and Chant Together Using Mantras
Kids love to sing. Chanting improves focus and concentration and has powerful effects on brain development. Here are a few of my go-to mantras and tips to make the most of the experience:
- The Gayatri mantra has 24 syllables, each of which is connected to a different part of the brain. It has been used to enhance intelligence and intuition. It’s also a beautiful song and a great exercise for memory.
- OM is the sound of the universe and divine intelligence: kids can connect with that! Allow your little ones to play with the tone and volume of their OM’s and go at their own pace. The sound can range from a strange and harmonious choir to the sound of different animals howling the jungle.
- Chakra toning: Hang up a chart or painting of the chakras (the body’s seven major energy centers). Point to the chakra and have them imagine the color in that area of their body. Have them chant the mantra associated with that chakra.
After toning or using mantras, ask them to keep their eyes closed for a while and notice how they feel. This is a powerful meditation tool that can help kids gain awareness of the effects of using mantras.
Making a beaded necklace or bracelet is meditative and can also make the child feel accomplished. Give these pieces of beaded art away as gifts. This practice of creating and then giving teaches the child how to show love while practicing the universal Law of Giving and Receiving.
Pranayama (Breathing Exercises)
Breath is connected to prana (life-force energy) and oxygenates every cell in our body. Pranayama has been one of the most important tools for my kids’ well-being—as well as my own sanity. It helps them when they are about to burst into a crying fit or when they are too excited to express themselves clearly. All I have to say is, “Let’s breathe,” and they know exactly what to do.
Here are a few breathing techniques that are favorites among my kids:
- Ujjayi (Victorious Breath): Explore practicing the “deep ocean sound” at the back of the throat, while taking deep belly breaths. It truly calms and settles their energy.
- Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breath): This is said to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain—leading to better cognitive development. I started them off with a simpler version where they hold one nostril and breathe in and out through the other, then switch sides.
- Kapalabhati (Shining Breath): They have fun watching their bellies as they push the air out of their mouths while drawing their abdomen in at the same time.
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