To authentically teach mindfulness to your children, you need to practice it yourself. On the airplane rides, they always talk about the need to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on the children or young people around you. This is also true with your mindfulness and meditation practice. A big part of what I do is teach teachers how to use yoga, mindfulness practices and meditation in the classroom. In doing so, I encourage the teachers to start their own daily mindfulness and meditation practice. In the classes that I teach for graduate credit and for recertification for educators, this is part of their assignment. Their assignment is to meditate and practice mindfulness for 30 days and journal about it. I have several different resources to help them begin to understand what it looks like. I give them their own personal practices in their first class. I teach them just to learn to inhale and exhale to begin. I teach them how to count to their inhalations and count to their exhalations. I teach them to use a mantra in their meditations. I also encourage using apps such as Headspace. I am amazed to the reflections I received from these teachers at the difference that mindfulness, yoga, and meditation can make in their daily personal lives as well as their classroom lives.
You, like these educators, can start slowly with a meditation practice of just five to 10 minutes a day. Ultimately, the goal is to meditate three times a day. However I encourage you to begin with just starting in the morning. Pressing the pause button early in the morning, clearing the mind, and setting positive intentions through mindfulness practices and meditation can change the whole heartbeat of your day. It helps with your actions and your reactions in all instances that come your way. Our brain is a very powerful tool. Taking time to give the brain clarity and calm help to make our physical and emotional beings so much better.
Now let’s move on to the children we work with or have as our own family members. Beginning a mindfulness and meditation practice with your family can begin very small. However, using with your family members can be very powerful way to connect with your loved ones. I would recommend beginning with mudras. Mudras are “yoga for your fingers.” Helping children to understand how to use their hands in given positions, close their eyes and begin to breathe is a very powerful way to begin. In my work with children, I use 43 mudras with children. The mudras are given kid friendly names but still maintain the benefits and hand positions to bring about the positive intentions. (For more information on mudras click the link below for my brochure on how I serve schools or to order a deck of mudra cards to order for your personal use.)
Another powerful technique to use with children is teaching them the Sun Salutation. The Sun Salutation is a series of poses that flow together through the sinking of breath and body movement. (Please click below for a video of the Sun Salutation.) There is so much research right now behind the use of the Sun Salutation with children. Allowing the children to connect mind, body and breath in the morning is a very powerful practice to use before the school day begins.
The final way I will mention today is through the use of guided imagery. Turning on a guided meditation with your children is a great way for them to unwind and let the mind rest. Using guided meditation‘s or guided mindfulness practices in the afternoon is a great way for the kids to reset for the second half of the day. In our work in schools, we always use eye pillows with the kids. The eye pillows allow them to completely shut down, turn inward and cut out outside stimulation. It also allows them to have that deep sensory input on their face. It helps them to relax the facial muscles and their tongue. If you have never tried one, begin today! You will never regret it!
I encourage you to start your own personal mindfulness and meditation practice and see what it does for you. And then, pass it on to the children that you serve or live with. There maybe some giggles in the beginning or uncomfortable feelings but know that the benefits of the practice will last a lifetime. Pressing the pause button in our very busy life is so important and it’s not something that we give ourselves permission to do. So to begin, give yourself permission, and then pass it on to the little ones you serve. Namaste
VideoSun Salutation Video