• Caring Feelings: Practicing Kindness and Compassion for Children

    The Caring Feelings activity is a child-friendly version of a Loving Kindness practice, which is a type of meditation that can help your child develop compassion, contentment, and a feeling of well-being.

    In a traditional adult Loving Kindness practice, kind thoughts would be sent to the self, to people close to you, to people you feel neutral about, and to people who you are angry or upset with, and extend to the entire world. In our version, we are going to start with someone that your child loves very much, as this is the easiest way to access their kindness. We will end with the self, and, eventually, after this practice becomes familiar, you can try including someone a little bit challenging. 

    1. Begin by finding a comfortable seat; close your eyes.
    2. Bring to mind someone that you love very much. Imagine them walking into the room, and sitting down in front of you. Notice how sitting with this person makes you feel. This can be a family member or a friend. It can even be a pet. Imagine that person and begin to send caring feelings to that person. Notice how imagining this person makes your heart feel.
    3. Now send some wishes to the person you’ve brought to mind. For instance, you can say, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be peaceful. May you be filled with joy.”
    4. Next, send some kind thoughts to the people in your family—siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be peaceful. May you be filled with joy.”
    5. Now imagine sending loving kindness to children around the world—the ones who we know and the one’s who we don’t know. Imagine all of the children living around the world, the ones in your own neighborhood, and the ones who are living far away in other countries. Say to them, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be peaceful. May you be filled with joy.”
    6. Finally, let's send loving kindness to ourselves. Sometimes it can be challenging to send kind wishes and caring feelings to yourself, but, if you learn how, you will always be able to give yourself a boost of love when you need it. Imagine yourself sitting in a quiet place where you feel comfortable and safe, and imagine that there is a mirror in front of you. Look at yourself in the mirror for a moment, and then say to yourself three times, “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be peaceful. May I be filled with joy.”
    7. Sit quietly for a moment or two, then open your eyes.(When practicing with children, you can ring the singing bowl, to let them know that it’s time to open their eyes.)

     

    Drawing by Karen Gilmour

    Follow-up: Ask your child or your students how they felt about sending out the caring feelings, especially how it felt sending them to themselves. You might talk about times when they have sent unkind feelings to others or to themselves, and how that felt. Ask if there is anyone else they would like to send caring feelings to before you finish up for the day.

    Challenges: Once this activity becomes familiar, try including a person that your child has a hard time with in his kind thoughts. Be sure to avoid anyone that your child finds frightening or is extremely angry at. Instead, try using language like “someone who annoys you” or “someone who has been bugging you lately.”

    Daily Practice: Loving Kindness is a wonderful practice to bring into your daily life, as an antidote to the negative thoughts we all have about ourselves from time to time. Encourage your child to send himself kind and caring thoughts throughout the day, especially if he is feeling a little bit down. As the practice gets familiar, you can both experiment with sending kind thoughts to someone after an argument or disagreement. Explain to your child that sending kind thoughts to someone else is a way to help himself feel better, even if he is still upset with the other person.

    (Special thanks to Karen Gilmour for the fantastic illustration - learn more about Karen HERE)

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  • Power Down: Robot Relaxation for Kids

    With the increase of ADHD, behavioral disorders, child stress and anxiety, relaxation is becoming more and more important for children of all ages. With so much going on in their lives, children need to find time to simply unwind, put their feet up, and have some quiet reflective time where nothing is being asked of them, and they can truly take a break.

     

    Many of our students and kids, for a variety of reasons, are chronically exhausted. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children between five and twelve years old get ten to twelve hours of sleep each night. Most children get far less and many experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. 

     

    This 5 minute meditation can be used in the classroom as a great transition after recess, or in the home before homework or bedtime,  or anytime when kids need to “power down” the more active energy in our bodies. 

     

    The Robot Relaxation for Kids Video with Argos Gonzalez


    MEDITATION SCRIPT: ROBOT RELAXATION (play with it to make it your own!) 

     

    Close your eyes, be very still and imagine that you are a robot. Your whole body is made of metal. The lights on your arms and legs and stomach are flashing brightly. The robot also makes all sorts of beeping and bleeping noises. It is a very noisy robot.

     

    Now you are going to see if you can switch the robot off and make every part of your body completely still. Start with your right leg – bring all your attention to your right leg and turn off the switch. Your right leg becomes totally still.

     

    Now, do the same to your left leg, switching off the switch and watching the bright lights on that leg turn off. Switch off the light on your stomach and make it very, very still inside. Now do the same to your arms, turning off the lights and letting your arms become very still and heavy. Finally, turn off the switch in your head. Switch off your mouth, switch off your nose and eyes and finally switch off your breath. You should feel very still now. See how still you can make your robot body.

     

    Don’t forget that if you move anything, the lights will go back on – so stay as still as you can!


    ABOUT MAYURI GONZALEZ:

     

    Mayuri Gonzalez (E-RYT, RCYT)  has been practicing yoga and meditation for over 20 years since her own childhood and specializes in bringing yoga and mindfulness to children. She has taught for Little Flower Yoga since 2010 and is currently the Director of The School Yoga Project, a program of LFY offering direct service yoga and mindfulness classes for preschools and K-12 schools in the Greater New York Area, staff development workshops, staff yoga, and a national affiliate program.

     

    For more information about Little Flower Yoga and The School Yoga Project, visit www.littlefloweryoga.com. Contact Mayuri by email at mayuri@littlefloweryoga.com

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Caring Feelings: Practicing Kindness and Compassion for Children
The Caring Feelings activity is a child-friendly version of a Loving Kindness practice, which is a

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