As today is thanksgiving day in the USA (where we teach some of our courses) I thought it would be useful to bring some ideas and tips on how to combine this with meditation techniques for kids and teens.
The energy of gratitude can be nurtured through meditation and it has a powerf
ul effect on our mental, emotional and physical well being.
In our classes, I teach about the benefits of focussing the mind on the positive to help us see the glass as ‘half full’. Not only is it a mental concept, but it has physiological benefits too.
The Heart Maths Institute have been conducting research into the power of the heart and the heart centre. This is a perfect point for us to teach our children some simple meditation steps.
For the teens, it helps shift a negative mindset if you can encourage them to keep a gratitude diary. Sure, a diary can be used to offload lots of emotions and negative thoughts (that we aren’t brave enough to share with someone). However a dedicated gratitude diary helps them to identify something that helps them feel good. This feeling is generated by the mental thought, brings about a positive feeling that they can register in their body. If they can write down 3 to 10 things they feel grateful for each night for a few weeks and notice the difference in how they feel.
Thanking the body
For the teen, who is perhaps very self conscious of their body image as they go through hormonal and physical changes, this is a powerful step. Taking the time to thank different parts of the body – legs for the strength to run, dance and walk… the eyes to see… the mouth to eat, talk with friends….
This helps to nurture a different relationship with the body – one where the young person recognises how miraculous their body is for all it does during the background of a normal day.
Smiling at the body
For younger children, we can still take them through a ‘thank you meditation’ but perhaps introducing the idea of smiling at their body. The idea that the smile is tangible ‘thing’ that they can imagine – giving it a shape and colour. This can be guided with the imagination into different parts of the body to help them feel good. If necessary, they can tap or touch the part of the body being described the meditation.
The physical smile
Sitting in meditation and asking them to physically smile – but with mindful awareness. What this means is that they focus on a sensation or feeling that this generates in the body. If they are unsure, ask them to imagine the physical smile sliding down into their chest where it sits (as if someone has drawn a smile on their chest). For younger children you can ask them to do this and then pin the picture to their top. Then they imagine the smile getting bigger and bigger… sharing it with people they know… giving it to people who are challenging until the smile on their chest covers the world.
This is good for really young children – where you take a large piece of paper (or tape several together) so that you can draw a body outline of the child. Then they fill it in with coloured smiles. If they are too young to draw then use pre-cute smiles from magazines and stick them all over the shape.
Remember that the adult has to join in. If you are asking a child or teen to tap into that energy of the smile and gratitude… let it touch your heart centre too.
In my 2nd book – Connected Kids – there is a more detailed gratitude meditation for you to try.