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Mar 20
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Bringing Peace Into Your Home With Family Meditation

Happiness comes from slowing down and cultivating a peaceful place inside together as a family.

A daily dose of meditation helps family members –

  • Self-soothe and settle energy … and relieve anxiety
  • Develop clarity … and prevent anger and resentment
  • Increase empathy … and decrease “Me first” and “I want”
  • Strengthen confidence … and lessen speediness
  • Heighten a passion for life … and relieve depression

As parents we teach our children to care for their physical well-being by brushing their teeth, eating right and getting enough sleep, but we aren’t quite as clear when it comes to teaching them how to maintain their mental health. Children are so impressionable that even just two minutes of sitting meditation a day helps them learn to self-settle and self-soothe. When kids have a peaceful place inside themselves, they naturally become happier and more positive, getting along better with one another and others in their world. Everyday obstacles become more workable and natural harmony is easily regained.

Meditating With Children

For the first few years of leading the Shambhala Rites of Passage (a coming-of-age program for children), I had the uncomfortable feeling while trying to teach 8-year-olds sitting meditation that I was flying right over their heads. Their eyes glazed over as I babbled on about “breath,” “mind” and “thoughts.” Desperate, I finally hit on a nonconceptual language they could relate to: We filled a big glass jar with the clean, clear water of “mind” and invited everyone to put in a large pinch of soil for every thought they could think of. I couldn’t believe how enthusiastic they were, sharing everything from stress over school and “I want a new puppy” to “My mom died of cancer last year.”

Next we stirred up our thoughts with a big spoon to simulate our speedy and demanding lifestyles: rushing around and stressing over homework, catching the bus on time, developing school relationships, etc. And while the water became clouded with our “thoughts,” we rang the gong and sat a couple of minutes while watching our “thoughts” settle down again.

I had planned on ending by dramatically demonstrating how the thoughts had settled and the mind had cleaned itself simply by sitting still for a minute, but the soil had stained the water, and one child turned the tables on me by pointing out that the “mind” was still dirty. So then we use colored sparkles, a handful of sand and a little glycerin, which help the “thoughts” settle more gracefully.

The whole process is highly entertaining, yet, ironically, it has the effect of creating a very palpable peace by the time we ring the gong to end. For a small family the process should take five minutes at the most. It’s important to keep any family meditation ritual short and sweet!

It had never really occurred to me to try this as a daily family practice until I got an e-mail from a Buddhist parent in France. She wanted me to know that when her 8-year-old son had lost his kitty, he and his little sister spontaneously comforted themselves by putting some sparkly “thoughts” into the mind jar, and watching as the sad feelings drifted down slowly to the bottom. A little while later they got a new kitten, and this time it was the little sister who ran to get the mind jar, the two children then sitting quietly as their happy thoughts settled. Their mother was very inspired by seeing her kids learning to simply sit and be with the ups and downs of life.

There are many ways to bring mini-meditation sessions into your family’s daily life: practicing two minutes of walking meditation while out for a stroll, counting 10 deep breaths while snuggling together at bedtime, having a moment of silence before beginning each meal, ringing a gong for a freeze game of standing meditation when things get too chaotic, stopping the chatter at every red light you hit … the possibilities are endless! For just one tool for bringing peace and sanity into your home, click on the image below.

For more information, visit the author’s website here.

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1 response to “ Bringing Peace Into Your Home With Family Meditation ”
  1. Rebekka Henriksen
    Feb 18, 2009

    This is wonderful Marc! I can’t wait to try all of these suggestions when River is older.

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