Finding Your Power: A Guided Meditation for Kids
Most adults have heard about the benefits of meditation. We know that it’s recommended for heart health and to help alleviate the impact of stress. But we often overlook how powerful it can be for our children. The common thought is that kids have so much energy that the little jumping beans could never be still enough to meditate. But as a mother and a yoga teacher, I have seen this disproven again and again.
Just like grown-ups, kids need to clear their minds and process the stress they feel in their lives.
They may not be worried about paying bills or meeting deadlines, but their concerns are just as real. Recently, my 11-year-old son played in a soccer tournament. The boys on the team felt real pressure to perform well, to please their coach, and to think quickly on the field.
The first game didn’t go so well, leaving the boys slumping with disappointment, their postures signaling not only a defeated team, but defeated spirits. Kids can carry this wounded energy with them and relive their losses over and over, impacting their self-confidence and self-worth.
When we teach kids the tool of meditation, with a bit of yoga and breathing included, they start to learn that they can wipe the slate clean. They can get out of their heads and start fresh. Here is a meditation that will help your kids find their self-confident glow. And let’s face it: confidence leads to action, no matter what age you are.
FINDING POWER MEDITATION
Have them take deep breaths that fill their bellies and lungs. This breathing will start to shift them away from their troubles and disappointments. If your child is an athlete like mine, you may find it useful to mention the fact that athletes they admire, including Olympic stars, use a meditation practice similar to this. You can also add in simple yoga movements with core-firing motions, like rhythmic seated twists or sun breaths, to prep the body for stillness. Then guide them through the following visualizations and affirmations:
With eyes open and a soft gaze forward, sit with your ankles crossed and place the back of your left hand to your thigh while your other hand circles up overhead. As you slowly draw the hand in a straight line down (thumb side of the hand facing your face) the center of the forehead to the heart center, mentally say, “I am strong.”
Circle your arm back overhead slowly and as the hand draws a straight line down, mentally say “I am powerful.” Circle your arm back overhead slowly and as the hand comes down, mentally say “I am unafraid”.
Then, close your eyes and lie down. Resting the palms on the space right above the belly button, visualize that you have a bright light in the belly, and with each breath, the flame grows brighter like the sun. As you continue to breathe, imagine that sunlight starting to shine out to the limbs of your arms, the limbs of your legs, the space of the heart, and then the space of your mind. When you open your eyes, you will be clear and ready for whatever the day has in store for you. Take a deep breath in, and then exhale through the mouth, “Haaaah.” Eyes open and you are on your way.
There will be times when the Finding Power meditation is what your kids need, and other times when a visualization of the beach offers the relaxation they need to shift their mindset and clear stress.
With technology so readily available, kids often opt for quiet time in front of the TV or a video screen. If you can give them another option for quiet, you are giving them a tool that will help them achieve happiness throughout their entire life. Kids of all ages love peace and quiet; they just need a bit of guidance.
Does Your Heart Have a Mind of Its Own?
Until recently, modern science perceived the heart as merely a pump to regulate the flow of blood throughout our bodies. But across numerous cultures, the heart has historically been thought to have a much greater function that corresponds with our thoughts, emotions, and spirit.
When we speak or share feelings from a place of deep meaning or passion, we say we’re speaking from the heart or we’re trying to convey something that is heartfelt. This is no longer just an archaic maxim, but instead, one with factual backing. And science is now realizing that the heart and brain have more of a corollary, interactive relationship than previously thought … a relationship that has residual consequences on our bodies, and possibly even humanity as a whole.
Connecting Two Major Organs
The brain has typically been thought to be the control center for the body, sending directions through the nervous system to different organs, telling them how to behave. This is done through voluntary or involuntary action, like telling the heart to pump blood. But in reality, the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart, influencing emotions, memories, problem-solving, and high-level cognitive functions.
In fact, the heart has its own network of neurons. This network is so sensitive that our heart rhythms become highly ordered when we experience positive emotions, love, and joy. On the contrary, negative emotions and psychological activity cause erratic and jerky heart function, leading to inefficiency, lack of energy, and poor reasoning.
While massive fluctuations can shake up our energy and emotional levels, our heart rates already fluctuate very regularly, sometimes even every beat. Although these fluctuations are minute it shows just how sensitive our hearts are and how susceptible they are to change. These oscillations in our heart rate are called Heart Rate Variability or HRV. HRV essentially measures the change in our heart rate with each beat. It is an effective way of being able to maintain and effect psychophysiological coherence or heart-brain coherence.