With COVID-19 and the closure of schools and businesses many of us are at home trying to figure out this new normal while balancing work, kids, health, finances and our sanity. Here are a few ways to engage with your family in a meaningful and fun way. For more in this series click here.
by BKY teacher and board member Elizabeth Jameson
Idea: When families meditate together, the adults are not only teaching a useful tool for self-regulation, they are holding a space for ALL to let go and enter a state of calm.
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We find ourselves facing historically unprecedented times, for many of us tensions are high and we are all doing our best to lean into uncertainty and take things day by day. With schools and offices closed, you may find yourself navigating new dynamics and daily rhythms. Now is the perfect time to connect to each other, slow down and meditate as a family.
Introducing Meditation to Children
Explain, in a developmentally appropriate way, the purpose of the practice. No child is too young to begin meditating; infants, toddlers, school-aged children and teens all benefit from a meditation practice. For a preschooler you may offer the challenge of being quiet and still. Whereas, for a teenager you might explain the idea of being a passive observer of their thoughts, letting them enter and leave the mind without attaching judgement.
Begin with small increments of time and expect a few wiggles and chatter at first, it takes practice and focus to quiet the mind. Avoid correcting your child’s behavior during this time, accept them where they are in their practice and focus on your own quiet stillness. You are meditating together and they learn best by watching you.
Use a prop to engage your child’s interest and focus. A sand or bubble timer allows for the passage of time to be visible. Candle gazing focuses attention on a single point. A breathing buddy (small stuffed animal) on the belly or a feather held in front of the face helps visualize the breath.
A glitter jar is relaxing to watch and a wonderful craft to complete together and only takes a few simple materials:
- A glass or plastic bottle/jar
- Hot Water (optional: add food coloring)
- Glitter (sequins and beads optional)
Mix the glue and hot water in the jar, the more glue added to the water the slower the glitter will swirl and fall. Add glitter, and any other materials, seal the jar and shake it up.
Increase the amount of time for your practice as you are able. The more often you and your child meditate, you will find you are able to practice for longer periods of time. There will be times where for you or your child this task may feel impossible. Give yourself grace on those days, and only sit for as long as it feels successful. Keeping this experience free from pressure allows it to grow peacefully and organically.
The Benefits of a Family Meditation Practice
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not to join their chaos.” ~ L.R. Knost
The benefits of an individual mediation practice are well-documented, sharing these moments as a family has the added benefit of co-regulation. Children respond to the emotional states of trusted adults. When those adults are fearful, anxious or stressed, children often find themselves feeling heightened emotions as well. However, when an adult is able to hold a calm emotional space, children are able to find calm as well. When families meditate together, the adults are not only teaching a useful tool for self-regulation, they are holding a space for ALL to let go and enter a state of calm.
“I joined Bliss Kid Yoga as a teacher, sharing yoga with young students and their families. I have witnessed first hand the growth in self-confidence, the deepening of trust, and the building of stronger relationships resulting from a yoga practice. As a board member, I am better able to serve and expand our offerings. My background in psychology draws me to the healing aspects of yoga, and I am working to bring our programs to Austin’s more vulnerable youth. Healthy children and families build strong communities, and I am honored to be a part of the process.”Elizabeth Jameson