Back to school is a transition. After long summer days of swimming, playing baseball in the park and riding bikes with best friends, kids are suddenly expected to spend hours sitting still behind a desk. Finding focus in the classroom after summer break is a challenge for most children. One tool that can greatly help calm a child is meditation. As a mother of two energetic young girls, I’ve seen the benefits first hand. Below are five steps to help focus and calm your kids through meditation.
1. First, calm yourself. Peace is contagious and if you can exude peace, your children and everyone around you will be calmer. Start your morning with a meditation and your kids will soon understand it’s your routine. Then gradually they can come in and meditate with you for a couple of minutes. The important thing is not to force it. Meditation should be a joy, not a burden.
2. Allow your kids to exercise every day. Exercise is a great way to release stress and tension in the body. Kids have a lot of nervous energy, as do we. Allow them time to run around whether it’s before or after school. Once they have released stress in the physical body, they can start to release stress in their minds.
3. Be present with your children. Kids are not usually articulate enough to say, “Mommy, you have been spending a lot of time working and I need you to acknowledge me.” If I take some time to truly be present with my girls and listen to their day without multitasking, or sit with them while they practice piano, they are more settled and understanding when I do need to work.
4. Get creative and have fun. Depending on how old your children are, sometimes a seated meditation is not going to work. In my experience, children under the age of 6 have a very difficult time sitting still for more than a minute. Instead, try a walking meditation where you stroll through nature in silence. Take in the beauty that surrounds you. Taking time in silence and connecting with nature is key in finding peace.
5. Be a guide. If your children are open to it, try sitting down after the walk. Have them close their eyes and bring their attention to their body. Your body lives in the present moment, while your mind resides in the past or future. Guide their awareness to their toes and feet and let them relax. Next move up to their ankles and legs and tell them to relax. Keep moving all the way up their body to the crown of their head. Only once they have completely relaxed their bodies, will they be able to calm their minds.
Danielle Mika Nagel, is the Studio Director for the world’s first Chopra Yoga Center in Vancouver, BC. www.choprayoga.com. Danielle is certified in Primordial Sound Meditation and has more than a decade of experience teaching. Danielle travels throughout the US and Canada teaching yoga and meditation at events and teacher trainings. For more information join the conversation on twitter.com/choprayoga or facebook.com/choprayogacenter.