1. BETTER SLEEP
As a child I’d lay awake at night for HOURS with my mind racing as I replayed the events of the day over and over and over. After learning my first simple relaxation meditation I gained the ability to quiet my mind and fall asleep within minutes no matter how crazy my day. Many children in my classes have the same complaint and are finding it easier thanks to breathing and relaxation meditations they can do themselves!
2. LESS STRESS
My parents never put pressure on me to excel in academics or sports, I took care of that for them. I was a born perfectionist and I’d agonize for endless hours over whether I was going to be valedictorian, maintain perfect attendance, or place in my next swim meet. I actually had welts and stomach problems as early as the 10th grade which my doctor attributed to stress. All these symptoms disappeared when I learned how to breathe and center myself when I felt overwhelmed. I teach breathing and grounding exercises tailored for children that ease their anxiety and overwhelm. By developing these habits early they’ll know what helps them during stressful teen years and into the pressures of adulthood.
3. BODY AWARENESS
When I was 25 years old I landed myself in the hospital for 3 days due to an acute kidney infection. It never should have gotten that far, but I was so concerned with the items on my to-do list (moving! unpacking! work work work!) that I ignored the many signs my body gave me that it was in serious trouble until it was too late. Mindfulness practices have given me the ability to listen my body. Instead of running myself into the ground I hear my body when it’s tired, or needs more food, and I can respond to give it what it really needs.
4. DIFFUSING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
I was an inquisitive and joyful child, but I had a very short temper, especially as I grew into my pre-teen years. It wasn’t until I began to peel away the layers that I realized underneath it all I was a very angry child, though I wouldn’t have described myself that way at the time. In the past, whenever I felt an emotion I would express it immediately because I didn’t feel I had a choice (to anyone reading this who has experienced my temper in the past, I apologize). Through meditation I realized that while I experienced my emotions I was not my emotions. Meditation for children teaches kids that while they have all the feelings, they themselves aren’t all the feelings!
5. OVERCOMING FEAR OF FAILURE
Getting back to being a perfectionist, there were so many things I was afraid to try as a child because I was afraid I wouldn’t immediately excel at it. As a result I stayed in my “safe” space, academics, rather than pursuing more artistic activities such as dance because I already knew I’d do well, there was no risk involved. It took the practices of mindfulness and meditation to help me listen to my desires and overcome my fears to begin fully expressing myself. When I was 26 I started taking ballet for the first time since I was 3, and at 33 I’m dancing en pointe and even performing on stage! The exercises and art projects in my meditation for children classes are geared toward developing what is called a growth mindset, where children learn that skills must be developed and failure is okay – even experts have to practice!
6. RELINQUISHING CONTROL
All my life, I had a vision of how each day, situation, or event should go. If there was even the slightest deviation from that vision of perfection, the rest was completely ruined! I couldn’t let go of my perceived “loss”. Through meditations based upon surrender and the release of expectations, I realized that it wasn’t the events that were making me unhappy but my own expectations of them. In my last class we discussed the idea of letting go and my favorite moment was when a 6-year-old girl said, “So it’s like, when my mom says I have to go to bed, I just need to let it go because I can’t change it!” YES! Such wisdom!
7. STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS
When we are busy, it becomes all too easy to stop “seeing” the people we interact with on a daily basis, including those we love most. Even family outings and activities can become items to check off a list when we are too overwhelmed to be fully present. I’m not saying I never had deep connecting moments with family or friends before these practices, but I had thousands of missed opportunities to give them my full attention. Children are naturally mindful beings, completely in the moment, all we need to do is teach them how to stay there!
8. INNER GUIDANCE
I’ve always had a strong intuitive voice, and been pretty good at following it. Case in point, despite knowing that UNC-Chapel Hill had only an 8% out of state acceptance rate I still applied early decision that school without applying anywhere else because I knew that’s where I’d be going. I’ve never stressed about the 3 out-of-state moves I’ve made, because my inner voice told me it was where I should be. Despite that, there have still been a number of times that I ignored that voice, especially when it came to relationships. Through mindfulness and meditation I came to appreciate that inner guidance – whether it’s my own innate wisdom, Source, Universe, or God – and follow it EVERY time, not just sometimes. Teaching children that just because they are young doesn’t mean they don’t know what’s right or best for them is a priceless lesson!
I spent many years in my 20s trapped in the cycle of an eating disorder until I began using mindfulness practices to interrupt my patterns. I’m so heartened to see Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is mindfulness based, becoming more prevalent in treating ED. When our children realize what is wonderful, unique, and special about them just as they are they are powerful from a young age, with no need to reclaim their power later. Meditation and mindfulness practices expand our ability to love not just ourselves, but everyone around us!
10. FULLY EXPERIENCING LIFE
My childhood was filled with self-created countdowns. Countdowns to Christmas, to being a middle-schooler, then a teenager, then high-school graduation. I was so pre-occupied with getting to the next step my life that I missed out on what was special about what I was experiencing right then. It wasn’t until meditation and mindfulness practices became a part of my adult life that I realized how precious every moment of my life is. Ecstatic joy can be found in the most mundane of activities when we give them our full attention!
These practices have transformed my life, and even before I had a child of my own I had visions of helping children gain this wisdom as early as possible. I feel so blessed that I get to share this knowledge with children each week, and in return their presence continually reminds me of what’s truly important in life.
Do any of these resonate with you? Share your story in the comments below!
breathe the moment in
- Do you live in the Colorado Springs, CO area? Give the gift of meditation and mindfulness to your child today!
- Think it’s too late for you to gain these benefits? It’s never too late! Contact me to find out how I can help you or your family.
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