Sometimes it seems that there’s an opinion out there that a person can’t be truly spiritual if they don’t meditate. Now, I know it’s not true – there are many paths for increased awareness and the expansion of Love – but, there is an undeniable mountain of scientific and anecdotal evidence that those who do meditate experience numerous benefits. From what I’ve heard, Deepak Chopra sits in meditation for at least a couple of hours early every morning and look how prolific and profound his work is. There’s definitely something in it and meditation could prove to be a practice that really suits my boys. So I recently decided to start introducing them to it.
The thing is, I don’t meditate regularly myself. I’m not even sure what meditation is exactly or why we do it. My working definition is “watching the mind & body to become aware of my true self as the observer”. But then, some meditations use a lot of imagination or deep contemplation around an idea, which is more than just “watching”. And some people do it purely for physical relaxation. Perhaps the purpose of a meditation session is simply the intention we bring to it.
Anyway, my big question was, how was I going to lead Jake and Thomas in meditation when I really had no idea what I was doing myself? I thought back to one of my early posts on introducing my boys to God/TheUniverse/Spirit and I remembered that I didn’t need to have all the answers. What I did need to do was let go of my ego’s desire to feel more knowledgeable about meditation than my boys and to join them as a learner. If they see me as a fellow explorer on the spiritual path, it shows them that no one of us is an expert – we can become experts for ourselves.
HOW WE GOT STARTED WITH MEDITATION
After accepting that I really didn’t know what I was doing, I figured I’d do the modern thing and use an app to get myself started. I’d heard of Headspace from a number of different people so downloaded it before going away on my trip to Barcelona & Dubai. Meditating poolside on the roof of a beautiful hotel was easy. I managed to do it every day while on holiday and my mind focussed pretty easily. It has proven harder since returning to the busyness of normal life as a Mum and the accompanying busyness of mind. But I’m approaching this with a light heart, I don’t beat myself up about missing sessions or spending the whole time thinking about what’s next on my to-do list.
I had done the occasional super-simple meditation with Jake (aged 6) previously, talking him through them myself so he had some familiarity with being still and focussed. One evening, I showed him the Headspace app and let him choose one of the kids’ meditations for us to try together. He chose the sleep one, since he was off to bed, and we did it together, Jake lying on his bed and me on the floor of his room. My plan was to creep out of the room once the meditation had finished and leave Jake to doze off but the novelty was too exciting for him and he wanted to do another one after it finished. I left his room that night pleasantly surprised by Jake’s receptivity and eagerness. I’m sure being allowed to use my phone (usually off-limits) had something to do with it. Now, when I’m tucking him into bed at night, he’ll sometimes ask to do a Headspace meditation together.
So far, Jake hasn’t asked me much about what meditation is, he’s just keen to do it. Presumably, as we meditate more, questions will arise but, also, more “answers” will reveal themselves to us. Right now, we’re playing and exploring. I’m meditating both on my own and with Jake. As time goes by, I think we’ll each better understand what kind of meditation we like (if at all) and what it means to us personally.
I haven’t yet started meditation with 3-year-old Thomas. I might try him out with the Headspace app but I suspect some of the language will be a little hard for him follow. He might be happy just to join in with Jake and I anyway, to be a part of our exploration. I can probably make up my own super-short meditations for him too, based on the ones I’ve heard.
MEDITATION AND “REAL LIFE”
Helping them to finding their own repertoire and routine of spiritual practices is only one of the ways we can nurture our children’s spirituality. Our spirituality is not just about specific practices that we do in a quiet space, removed from the rest of life. It’s also in the way that we go about all that we do. The usual activities of our day can offer us “meditative moments” if we look for them (just as it can spontaneously inspire prayer or gratitude, for example). Here are some meditative moments my boys and I have shared together recently –
eating the first mouthful of our meal with our eyes closed, noticing the smell, taste, texture and other feelings the food gives us. (Dessert is a yummy one to start with 😊)
watching a drip of rain or shower-water roll down the glass, all the way to the bottom.
colouring in (I like to join in with my boys using my own adult’s colouring book – it’s more inspiring for me than Bob the Builder).
sensory play eg. playdough, water play, painting, sand.
taking 3-5 belly breaths together to savour the moment.
stroking the family pet (have you noticed how easily we give them our full attention?)
IN SUMMARY – MEDITATION AS A SUGGESTION
I want to introduce my boys to many spiritual practices. I want them to have the chance to explore different ones, looking for what resonates, what feels good and useful to them. Meditation may or may not suit them and what works for them may be very different to what works for me. I wrote more about our children finding their own ways of connecting in my blog post Why We Can’t Pass Our Spirituality Onto Our Children.
I sometimes feel inspired to suggest to Jake and Thomas that we say a prayer or share something we’re each grateful for or, now, meditate together. But, if they’re not keen, they’re never made to join in. I simply give them the opportunity to experience the practices for themselves. I’ll let you know how we are going with our exploration of meditation in a few months.
Much love to you and your little souls,
If you found this post helpful, subscribe to get new essays & soulful parenting tips sent straight to your inbox.