Young kids love being outdoors and pretending, so images from nature for teaching beginning meditation fit this age group. In this lesson I’ve included the example of a puppy for the kids to visualize.
To introduce children to sitting meditation you are going to be the model to emulate: Everyone sits in a circle with you on a carpet or blanket, facing in to the center, with legs crossed in, and hands clasped resting in their lap. No need to stress sitting up perfectly straight or not fidgeting. The perfection of the pose comes with lots of practice and their maturing body. Next, ask the children to copy your special breathing. First explain what you are going to do such as: “We are going to breathe in and out evenly like a little puppy does while taking a nap. On the first count we breathe in (model the “in” breath), and on the second count we breathe out (model the “out” breath). Let’s all try the even breathing now (let everyone try 3 sets of evenly spaced in and out breathing).”
If you are working with preschoolers explain that even breathing, like a little puppy resting, also gives them a rest and time to feel better when they have been upset or crying.
Imagery for quiet time
Now, moving on to the sitting still portion of the meditation practice, ask the kids to close their eyes and imagine a special little talking dog out in the yard who is going to tell a story about the world. The talking dog says that he represents all the animals of the planet, and wishes all people to live in harmony with each other, the animals, and the environment, because we all depend on nature for air to breathe, clean water and food. The little talking dog now sits still, and asks the kids to join him for a few minutes thinking about how they can be kind and caring with each other, animals and everything on our planet. By now, the children are probably quiet and relaxed. When the group begins to stir ask everyone to follow you by taking a deep breath in, letting it out, standing up and stretching.
Though this meditation example uses images from nature, if you are teaching in a particular religious setting you could use those examples. Either way, spiritual energy flows through everyone and the quiet time of meditation helps get in touch with our deeper inner peace and calm; our spiritual nature.
By Susan (Shuchi) Helene Kramer
Susan Helene Kramer (Shuchi) has been a devotee of Sri Gurudev Swami Satchidananda and a Yoga practitioner since 1976. She is the mother of 5 and writes on practical spirituality, dance, family and social issues. Her books are listed at her web site: SusanKramer.com