Since my little girl was born, I used to meditate at night, while I got her to sleep. It was very important for me to have this time to relax and center myself.
It helped me a great deal when facing the challenges of parenthood and in particular those unslept nights.
When she grew up, I started reading for her narrative meditation, such as “The Star Catchers: Stories for You to Read to Your Child To Encourage Calm, Confidence, and Creativity” (by Anne Civardi, Joyce Dunbar, Karen Wallace, Kate Petty) or “Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire” (by Dharmachari Nagaraja). These inspirational stories were not only beneficial for my daughter but for me also and it was really a meditation time for the both of us.
Then, there was a time where I started to read her guided meditation. My favorites books are “Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)” (by Eline Snel) and “52 Meditações para Crianças” (by Susana Guerreiro. In Portuguese only).
In her 2nd year of Primary School she told me she sometimes had some problems to concentrate at school, especially when her friends were talking during the class. I thought it was a good time to introduce the breath counting meditation. She was ready and it would be an excellent opportunity for me to practice it with her. So every night, we would go to bed, talk a little bit about our day and then get prepared for the meditation.
Here follows the Meditation method I use:
Lie down, close your eyes and relax all your body. Now, focus on the breath. Feel the air coming in and out of your nose. Breathe in, breathe out gently.
Put your hand on your belly and feel the movement of your belly while you are breathing.
Imagine your belly like a balloon. Take a deep breath to fill your belly up with air, as if filling up a big balloon. Then, let the air out of the balloon and feel the belly moving back down. Try to breathe only with your nose. But you can also let your child inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. It would be more comfortable for kids.
And now we will start counting, to concentrate and focus our attention.
After a few breathing cycles (a breathing cycle is an inhalation and an exhalation), let’s introduce the counting.
I normally ask my daughter to inhale and count to 4 and then exhale and count to 4. But another technique is to count until 20, as: inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, exhale 4, inhale 5, exhale 6, inhale 7, exhale 8… until 20. Then with time and more confidence, you can count until 50.
Whilst your child is doing this technique, you can use a different one. Inhale and count to 4, exhale and count to 8. Do it until your child has finished. When thoughts run through your mind, which is normal as we cannot stop them, just let them pass without any judgement, go back and concentrate on the counting.
This meditation is a very good way to relax and clear your mind and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep. And it will only take you 5minutes!
No more excuses not to meditate. Create your routine: practice this meditation every night during 21 days, which is the time we need to take in a new habit and make it a ritual.
It will also be a privileged time with your child. Both will benefit from it.
And if you do not have kids, just do it by yourself and enjoy the moment.
It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.
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