RE: Meditation and Children

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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

Meditation and Children

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi all,

As I am going through this text by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche : Beyond meditation...

...which I stumbled upon through this nice list of resources : Reddit resources...

...I found myself thinking again about the notion of teaching meditation to children. 

YMR seems to have learned how to read and meditate at the same time, from the Dzogchen text The Precious Treasury of the Basic Space of Phenomena. He was taught by his father who was a tibetan tulku. 

I find that wonderfully amazing.

Recently, reading Land of the spotted eagle, by Chief Luther Standing Bear, I picked up on this excerpt describing the customs of the Lakota people : 

Training began with children who were taught to sit still and enjoy it. They were taught to use their organs of smell, to look where there was apparently nothing to see, and to listen intently when all seemingly was quiet. A child who cannot sit still is a half-developed child

How about the community here : have those who are parents taught their children how to meditate ? If yes, results ? If not, why not ?

Curious to hear others' opinion about this too. 

Cheers

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Ben V., modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 342 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
I taught my daughter (now aged 10 years old)  how to meditate at around 5. 

Initialliy it was a game in which we would each in turn tell the other what thought came in the mind. E.g. I would go: I am thinking of a tree. Then she would go, I am thinking of a rabbit. Then I would go, I am thinking of a cake. And on and on for like a minute or two. A kind of rudimentary ping pong noting à la Kenneth Folk.

This began to develop the skill of watching one's own mind. 

Later, I showed her how to count her breath, and finally do metta meditation.

Results? It's hard to tell if some of those ''results'' are from meditation or a combo of her own personality and how we raise her. She is certainly very compassionate and has a good sense of ethics or morality. She is well-behaved, including at school, and studies well.

Meditation results per say: I once told her to observe  itches in meditation without scratching, just watch it closely. She did that and reported  with some awe that the itch eventually multiplied and bounced around like a basketball. I was thinking, A&P.

Other times, often actually, she has reported feeling joy during meditation. Once she reported dizyness and I said it's ok just watch it, don't worry about it. She was very ok with this. 

At 8 years old I sent her to a children one-day ''retreat'' at a Goenka center. They taught them mindfulness of breathing. She reported that while watching her breath at some point she felt her body disappeared, with only the tip of her nose remaining in awareness.

I have to say though, that I have not taught her meditation as a stand-alone thing, but within a wider context of teaching her Buddhism. A lot of her bedtime stories I told her were from animated Buddhist story books for children. I taught her age-appropriate (that she can understand) Buddhist teachings. She always showed much interest in all this. By the time she meditated for the first time she had heard a lot of these stories, which deal mostly with teaching virtues such as perseverance, non-harming, compassion, etc. So in her mind meditation is a thing you do within a wider context of ethical teachings. 

Another thing is I never make her do long meditation sessions, only a few minutes. Often I put the bell in front of her and let her decide when the session ends by striking the bell. Now that she is 10 the sessions are usually around 10 minutes. She doesn't meditate every day, just once in a while.
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Interesting Ben, thanks for sharing. Let us know when she attains stream entry emoticon
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Ben V., modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 342 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Haha emoticon Cool.. Maybe she will attain it before I do!emoticon
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
;)

Only joking of course.

Cheers
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Pepe, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 332 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
Ben V.:

Initialliy it was a game in which we would each in turn tell the other what thought came in the mind. E.g. I would go: I am thinking of a tree. Then she would go, I am thinking of a rabbit. Then I would go, I am thinking of a cake. And on and on for like a minute or two. A kind of rudimentary ping pong noting à la Kenneth Folk.

This began to develop the skill of watching one's own mind. 
That's a clever intro to meditation! 
agnostic, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 1546 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I teach my kids (6 & 8) stuff like watching the breath and exhaling to relax, basic body awareness around emotions, also visualizing blue sky with small clouds to fall asleep. My daughter sees angels and bright lights. They think they're experts at meditating because they can get into full lotus whereas I meditate in an office chair! 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 2437 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
During my Sunday school teaching days, working with kindergarteners and first graders, I would introduce them to the "Hello God" prayer, with a little framing ritual. We would light a candle (we had a very strict protocol for who lit it, as everyone wanted to, and we had to take turns very precisely) and I would say, "What does it mean that the candle is lit?" The reply was, "God is here." Then, we would do the prayer. The "meditation instructions" were to close your eyes and say, internally, "Hello God," and then to listen for a response. I spent some time beforehand broadening the concept of "listening" to include body sense, heart stuff, etc. At that age, they could go about thirty seconds with this mantra-like prayer before somebody got too fidgety. To close it out, someone would blow out the candle (again, strict taking turns protocol observed) and I would say, "What does it mean that the candle is out?" And they would reply, "God is still here." (subtly introducing them to the snuffed candle of nirvana, maybe, lol)

I wasn't able to develop this, but I will say that they were very receptive and fascinated. I should obviously have brought Ben V in there!!
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
If only ben V had been there... 

Nice !

My mom used to make us say a pater noster before going to bed, at the time i was very keen on that. Wasn't meditati'g per se but i'm sure that played a role in my later interest and inclination. I was also a volunteer altar boy for a few years, loved it.

The idea of teachings my kids to read from the deepest texts is very appealing to me honestly !
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Brandon Dayton, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 463 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Post A&P I was very gung-ho about teaching meditation to my kids, but I'm a bit more cautious now after having traversed more of the Dark Night stuff. If and when they are curious, I want to be able to have good resources to support them, but I want to wait until they are motivated by their own interest. Till then I'd rather focus on helping them build healthy psyches, so they are best prepared for the spiritual journey once they decide to take it on. A lot of that is trying to resolve my own stuff so I don't inadvertently pass it on.
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Sounds very reasonable. I wish i had a parent with a clue about this when i was 12 :p 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 1670 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I teach my 4 year old boy to calm himself down (like a Ninja) by closing eyes and breathing in and out without fidgeting the body emoticon He now brings the two Seiza benches to us when he wants to meditate. "Dad let's meditate" Usually he sits for 10 seconds emoticon emoticon

Then I talk to him about how mind can fall into the Hell Realm when angry and by coming back to his breathing sensations he can come back to the Human realm of loving kindness. When I get angry with him or me and my parter might get into an argument he would say "Dad, go back to your breathing, you are in the Hell Realm" emoticon emoticon 

When we brush teeth before bed time I tell him about the light Kasina and we stare at the bulb in the toilet for a bit and then we tell each other what we see emoticon first time I only asked what he can see without me sharing any info; he told me about a green dot that has red around it, and how this green turned to a red dot , all this with lots of wonder and excited observation emoticon was really cool watching him and listening to this emoticon 

I would not be ok with someone else teaching my boy. I would need to really get to know that person/teacher! Like "eye to eye" getting to know him/her well before being ok with that. 
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Must be fascinating.
I would not be ok with someone else teaching my boy. I would need to really get to know that person/teacher! Like "eye to eye" getting to know him/her well before being ok with that. 
Sounds about right ! 

What if your kid gets to the black dot and murk aspects though ? 

I wonder if the "dukkha ñanas" would be so hard to deal with for a kid with parents who know about this like you and can normalize the thing. Who knows how much of this dhukka actually comes from constructed identities which might be established later in life. Perhaps it would be easier for a kid.

Anyways, I can also see the wisdom in Chris' perspective of not wanting to experiment by actively provoking such things if they do not show up naturally... 

I'm kind of expecting someone to show up and tell us about how his 6 year old's DN went... lol


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Ben V., modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 342 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Not sure about my kid and DN, but I tend to think that passing seriously through nanas require some serious meditation. A few minutes here and there, not sure it can be too serious. 

As Chris I would certainly disagree in getting young children in any serious/heavy practice, or forcing them if they show they are not interested. That is not even a good thing to do with adults. The day ''retreat'' my daughter went was alternate periods of short meditations, periods of play/games, and periods of story telling, and she really liked it. To me as a parent it was experimenting and see my kid's response to it to see if it's beneficial or not. 

About consent: I assume most if not all parents just show and train their children whatever value system they believe is best (whether they are conscious of doing this or not), even though the children don't have the ability to consent to it. Just as they cannot consent to school teaching them math, physical education, history, and even the value system they teach them. I think it's more a matter of being mindful of the effects of what we do decide to teach them, and adjust along the way. IMHO anyways. I could always be wrong.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 3869 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I've raised four children. All of them are now adults and out on their own. I've mentioned my daughter here at various times because she's the most tuned into spirituality and psychology, maybe because of her struggles in her mid to late teens. My second oldest is getting into it now because of some issues, in his case work-related stuff causing anxiety. I believe that most people who become serious meditators do so from some perceived need which then carries them through more than the merely curious, although I realize that's a huge generalization.

In my experience, children learn a lot more from observing how their parents behave than from what we tell them and deliberately attempt to teach them. So if they see us meditating and/or otherwise doing what my friends in the developmental/leadership area call "self-care", they will naturally have some curiosity around that and be more likely to be drawn to it when, and if, they encounter their own problems.

So I'm in a sort of "let nature take its course" camp on this issue.
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Ben V., modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 342 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Thanks for sharing your experience and observations with this. 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 1670 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Perhaps it would be easier for a kid."

I think so. Most of my DN bleed through was due to my fucked up PTSD condition spanning from early childhood and on into my life's happenings of all sorts etc ... 

Btw, I'm not forcing anything on my boy. These short meditations happen maybe every week or longer emoticon I'm only making sure he knows about it. I'm not to set him on his path. That's his decision to make or not. 
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Meditation and Children

Posts: 3869 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Post A&P I was very gung-ho about teaching meditation to my kids, but I'm a bit more cautious now after having traversed more of the Dark Night stuff. 

My kids are older and can make the meditation y/n decision on their own. I'm not sure I'd get younger children into meditation in any serious way until they reach the age of consent, anyway. What's that you say? What is the age of consent? I'd say the age at which they can vote.

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