Welcome to How We…
Each month, members of the Children & Families team will be sharing How We have introduced aspects of our community to our children. We will cover everything from the Aether to Zeus and we invite you on our journey. We continue with How We Introduce Meditation
Meditation is a useful tool for us, especially if situations get overwhelming. We do a lot of breathing meditations in breathing in and opening our wings, breathing out-flapping them. If we try visualisation type meditations, my little Dilophosaurus just wants to act it out. They may get into this more as they get older.
Manager, Children & Families Team
Meditation has been a part of my life in some form or another for over thirty years, beginning with experiences in martial-arts dojos after class as a child. Though my interest developed further in my teens as I discovered more variations of what we might term ‘meditation’. I’ve practiced more trance-based shamanic methods, spiritually rooted mantra/mudra practice, through to the more secular practices of mindfulness. The latter is something I now teach to postgraduate students and professionals as a very beneficial life skill. It’s also something that, as a father, I have taught to my children.
My youngest son will very quickly default to breath awareness or five-finger method when he becomes upset, which gives him a great tool for managing his own emotions when he needs it. Whilst I tend not to have set regular meditation sessions, mindfulness and contemplation paired with aspects of my beliefs are fundamental to my daily practices as a heathen. Also, as a family, when out walking, we often stop to be ‘present’ in nature, that is, being mindfully aware of the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of that place and time, right at that moment. It’s nice to stop and take note of all the things we might have missed otherwise. This is something that I think the Aether quest activities promote also.
Northwest Liaison, Children & Families Team
I haven’t introduced meditation to the children as such, certainly I haven’t called it meditation anyway. Quiet or still time is something in our house, it can get a bit chaotic and overwhelming sometimes and frustrations can rise to the surface. When this happens, we have things in place, quiet or still time as I mentioned, breathing exercise and counting to ten.
There’s also a relaxation technique we have when getting to sleep can be a problem due to things like stressful thoughts running through the brain or just not being able to switch off. The older ones can do this technique on their own now but with my younger one, I talk her through it. It was a technique taught to me over twenty years ago and I still use it.
I’m not sure if you could call any of this meditation but these methods are certainly calming.
Mid-West & Wales Liaison, Children & Families Team
I spent a lot of my life believing I couldn’t meditate as I’d fallen into the trap of thinking you had to clear your mind which, for me as someone with ADHD, is nigh on impossible. I’ve since learnt, and subsequently taught my kids, that there are lots of different ways to meditate, including guided visualisation which I find so much easier as it allows my brain to take a break without trying to shut it down.
My 12-year-old also can’t do the “sit still and be calm/quiet”, however he adores meditation stories that grip his attention and let his mind take him on a journey. Some are about wolves, some are about hot air balloons, but the theme is generally travelling or moving, and they help him relax before bed.
My youngest (five) also loves a sleep story, although we don’t call it meditation yet. Even my partner, who would never say he meditates, lets the gentle sounds of ASMR lull him to sleep if he’s a bit wound up at the end of the day.
I think what I love about meditation is that it’s a practice that anyone can have a go at, and there’s so many different ways of approaching it, regardless of what path you’re on or what type of brain you have!
Secretary, Children & Families Team
Meditation was invaluable to our family when the kids were young. When we discovered Relax Kids, our bedtimes were transformed; not that bedtime was difficult, just that it felt more like something the kids looked forward to, rather than seeing it as a punishment.
Along with guided meditations at bedtime, we used to take time to be still, consciously breathe, be aware of where we were or what was going on around us. We are lucky enough to live close to lots of different woods and natural places to walk and we have taken full advantage of this. When I was training to be a nursery nurse, I was told ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.’ We obviously didn’t go for walks in raging thunderstorms, but rain, snow and sun never stopped us and we would take time to notice the changing season, new growth or changing colours on leaves. Although I’m not sure this counts as meditative practice; it was delightfully mindful.
Deputy Manager, Children & Families Team