Today I read an article about someone in the States using a derogatory term for the President. This term is an insult to people who have special needs. However a Special Olympics athlete replied to the incident with a response that gave me chills – because it was so compassionate and kind – even in the face of such anger and sarcasm. He signed it as
“A friend you haven’t made yet, John Franklin Stephens”
I was so moved by this, because this is why we teach kids meditation.
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition very close to my heart as I see kids who benefit from learning easy, simple mindful activities that help them out of their stressed state.
They enter that state very easily as they basically live there. It’s not an easy existence and while I don’t think meditation is the/only answer, I do feel we need to give kids/young adults experiencing this, all the help they can.
Plus we need to be informed and make informed decisions.
A very kind person, Patricia Sarmiento, at public health corps, sent me some really useful information which I hope you can share.
We have a large number of teachers on our courses and one of the things that people want to know is how to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into what is already a busy day.
Here are a few tips on how to do this to help you get started.
Check your energy One of the first things I ask people who want to teach kids meditation is “do you meditate regularly”? So do you? If not, why not?
If you practise some simple mindful breathing, it will help you to cope with times of stress in the class room. It may seem that the children aren’t being affected directly, but they are. Their energy picks up on your stress, so if you practise mindful meditation on a regular basis, it will help you feel more grounded and able to cope in a busy class room.
Start off simple Our expectation of meditation is that it has to be a long period of time to get any benefit. Not so. If we sit noticing our breath for a minute, this gives our mind, body and emotions the opportunity to come back into balance with each other.
In my book ‘Calm Kids’I describe different breath techniques that you can use to engage children in noticing the breath. For those with a very short attention span, ask them to hold their hands in front of their face, eyes closed and to feel their breath on their hands for 1 minute. This helps them to focus, feel their breath and slow down.
Engage their interest No-one likes to do something that isn’t interesting, eg it is boring! So why should meditation be any different? If they have a particular interest in a comic strip hero or a toy, then make the meditation about an imaginary journey with them.
Make it tactile For children (sometimes with Autism) who find it difficult to use guided imagery in a meditation, then using tactile objects can help. If your meditation is about a seaside trip then take in seaweed, sand, salt water, a seagull feather or a shell to help engage them. I explain this in more detail in my book ‘Connected Kids’.
Don’t disturb Get the children to help design a notice for the class room (or a corner of the room) that helps others know this is where they want to meditate and not to be disturbed when they are practising.