We have all heard how much meditation is credited with the ability to relieve stress and tension, to help us relax and to improve our mental mindset; and for those of us who actively pursue meditation, we know the truth of those statements. So for those of us who are parents, how do we decide when and how to introduce meditation to our children?
When my son was 4 years old, he went through a phase of having nightmares which caused him to have trouble relaxing enough to fall asleep. Out of sheer desperation one night, I decided to help him calm down using some basic meditation techniques. It worked like a charm. He called it “the white light game” and asked for it again and again over the next few weeks until his nightmare phase passed.
His room was quiet and dark, with only his nightlight, which helped to set the mood. I sat at the foot of his bed and had him get as comfortable as possible, lying on his back. When he was ready, I told him to just listen to the sound of my voice. I began by having him take a few slow, deep breaths. I told him to just follow along with me as I slowly took a deep breath in and then slowly exhaled. We did this two or three times, until I felt he was really receptive and listening to my voice without distraction.
Next I told him to start at his feet and to imagine a warm, glowing ball of white light hovering right in front of his feet. I explained to him that this white light was magic and protective and would keep him safe. Children are so good at imagining things, so they get this part much easier than an adult might. Then I had him imagine the ball split into two distinct circles, each one surrounding one of his feet like a gentle, loving, sock. I told him to feel his feet relaxing slowly as this white light massaged all the tension out of his feet.
I spoke in a calm, slow voice and intermittently reminded him to just breath slowly and to feel peaceful. I had the light work up through his calves, knees and thighs, then come together at his torso and work all that peaceful energy through his stomach, back and chest. When we got to his neck, we divided the light into two spheres again and had them work out to his shoulders and down his arms and through his fingertips and then back up to his neck again.
By this point, my son was extremely relaxed and almost asleep. I finished the meditation by having the white light flow all around his head and neck and then to get so big that his whole self fit inside the white light like a bubble and then to get so small that it fit into his heart, so it would stay with him always to keep him calm and safe when he needed it.