HMC Day 20: Meditating with children

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Children don’t have to be an impediment to your meditation practice!

If you have a baby ages 0-1: You can meditate while holding your baby, rocking him, carrying him in an Ergo, etc. Make the baby your focal point! Stay with the physical sensations that accompany being with your child. Looking after babies is a very physically demanding, tactile, olfactory experience, so lots of room to introduce meditation practice here. (This will probably be easier if the baby is sleepy/sleeping and not requiring you to intervene or do anything specific like change a diaper or feed.)

If you have a toddler ages 1-3: This may be the toughest age to incorporate children into meditation, because they’re mobile, but not really old enough to understand the basics of sitting still and paying attention. You can introduce your toddler to some mindfulness-based concepts, though: help her identify how she’s feeling, ask her to describe sights and smells when you’re out and about or even at home. You could engage in a dynamic play meditation of sorts with your toddler, where your focal point is the play — and your child — paying close attention to thoughts and feelings that come up or take you away from the moment. This may end up being more mindful presence than meditation, per se, but still a worthwhile activity. And you can save the undistracted meditation for when your toddler is asleep 

If you have a child ages 3 and up: Beginning around age 3, many children are capable of following instructions around taking deep breaths/noticing breathing patterns, sitting still with eyes closed, and listening to a guided script — even if it’s just for a minute or two. As your child gets used to brief periods of meditation, you can add on a minute at a time, until your child is able to sit still for 5 minutes or more at a time. Playing a guided meditation recording would allow you to meditate along with your child. Meditation can be a wonderful ritual to add to your child’s bedtime routine. It can help with relaxation and unwinding, and you’re also setting the stage for your child to develop physical, mental and emotional self-awareness.

If you have children, experiment with incorporating them into your meditation today. You may decide to carve out separate time for your own private meditation at another time in the day. If you don’t have children, consider sitting for 20 minutes in honor of Day 20 of this challenge.