Can you teach a child mindfulness and meditation?

Meditation tree

I am not sure that meditation is something that you can teach. For me, it is a way of being, a choice, a state of mind. I know that there are times in my life when I have not done it and times when I have. Times when the spiritual side of my life seems to be on hold and times when it is abundant and flowing. Throughout the children’s lives, I have been a spiritual yoyo, sometimes there is an altar with flowers and candles sometimes there is nothing. But life is always better for me when there is a candle alight and I have picked myself a flower.

Years ago, when I started to sit and meditate I always tried to include the children, invited them, freely to sit, or crawl or marvel at the candles, I would make a space for them. And yes, it was chaos have you ever tried to meditate with a three year old making its way towards a naked flame? But ultimately they would sit there, and fiddle and stare at the flickering candles and try and sometimes set things on fire. But they knew I was doing something different that was colourful, twinkly a bit magical and intriguing. I do believe that children have an innate sense of ritual and that more often than not they like it, even if it seems a bit weird. I feel it is in our bones.

There was a time when we were living in South Africa and I had made a small altar. Our son was two and a half or three, one morning he was being looked after by  a lovely woman called Connie. When I came back from the shops Connie was mortified, and she said to me with her African accent ‘Oh Lehla, I am so sorry about Jahli’ and she went on to tell me what had happened. She had let him out of her sight and she had found him cross legged by my mediation altar and all the candles were alight. (He had figured out where the hidden matches were) And she said ‘He was holding one hand like this’ and she did the yoga hand with the curly fingers, then she went on to say ‘But not the other’ and I asked him why he had only put one hand like that and he said because he had burnt the other finger. And it made me laugh a lot. Perhaps I should have worried and rushed to him to check that nothing else was burnt but I didn’t, I knew he was fine.  I did however tell him that perhaps he should, for now, rather meditate with me and not on his own. He agreed. I also found a better hiding place for the matches. Now I am not sure what lead him to that altar maybe it was the thrill of the matches or maybe it was something deeper, I will never know…

I am these days trying to show them that it is possible to sit still and go deep within yourself and have that quiet space, whenever and where ever you need to. That it is ok to take time to let yourself just be without the crazy chaos of life sucking you in. I don’t believe that meditation is necessarily something you learn. It is perhaps something that calls you that you tune in with and it has been proven that mindfulness can literally change your brain.

And here is a picture of the sky, just because how amazing is that cloud?!

image (1)

Your very reason for being on this earth is to experience joy

It serves nobody being in the shallows

Least of all yourself

Nor to stay on the dark shores of life

Waiting for the Tsunami of negative thought to consume you

Rather ride up on to the waves and live each moment for what it is

A precious gift.

Even, if for now they think what I do is strange and ‘floaty floaty’ all in all I do believe that if I can set the seed of mindfulness and meditation in to the kids brains at a young age then it may benefit them for the rest of their lives. Would love to know your thought on this…

And here is a lovely illustrated out line on how to mediatate in 10 easy steps  by Andy Puddicombe.

And in the picture above of the cloud if you look hard you can see a strange white cat. Jahli my son just said, ‘wow that cloud looks likes someone meditating, with one hand!’ how spooky as he has no idea what is in this blog.

 

 

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About the Author

Lehla is an illustrator and an author of books, she has written for The Guardian. She trained as an actress at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She wrote The South African Illustrated Cookbook, The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women and she illustrated a kid's book by M.J. Amani called 'Excuse Me, I'm Trying to Read' and also 'I am Me, You, Us and We' by Caroline Trowbridge. Above all she is a mother to three fast growing kids, she juggles her time between them and working on new books and projects. She has recently co authored with Anthony 'Jump', Fall, Fly - from schooling, to homeschooling, to unschooling' Her art work can be seen at http://lehlaeldridge.wix.com/lehla-

2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Simon says:

    Lovely to read that Lehla. Great to reflect on meditation practice. What to say about meditation other than it truly seems to be the doorway to freedom, and that the door begins to open when we finally realise that we are not our thoughts. Even our thoughts about who we are can be abandoned, can’t they, as well as our habits and conditioned responses? In the silence of many ‘sits’ there comes the amazing realisation that there is just this: no past, no future, just the mystery and magic of this present moment of awareness itself. This is not me, I am not this. To become aware of the mystery means we leap into the emptiness … and then realise that the emptiness contains all things. To see the flower is to be the flower. Then, when we move back into the business of our day-to-day lives and the personality view, we can treat them more lightly, even as a game. Wow! How wonderful and beautiful is that?
    Simon x

  2. It is very beautiful to have that Simon, it is true! x

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