On Meditating with 11-year Olds…

One of my tidbits for January’s Project goals around Health and Fitness was to meditate with the kids (my 28 sixth grade students) at the end of each day. The kids said they wanted a calmer, more connected end of day; during discussion, one suggested a silent moment and another meditation. These were on my list and received a number of “me too” (I agree) gestures from classmates. I decided over break to start at 10 seconds and increase in 10 second intervals each day to build to success and have some time to reflect on what works and what needs our effort. This was our first week back, and, aside from Friday, we meditated each day and got up to 40 seconds. (Friday we decided cleaning, organizing, filing, creating displays for the walls and making a card for a classmate whose father is in the hospital was worth taking the time to finish.)

The first day was seemingly unsuccessful since it was anything but silent. Still, after it was clear that noisemakers made it more difficult, we agreed to work harder on maintaining silence. Day 2, 20 seconds, seemed to offer us more time to get settled and combined with our increased attention to silence we met with some success. I asked if anyone found a useful strategy for blocking out distractions. Holding the heels of the hand to the eye was one strategy shared. Another was playing a little video/scene in your head (cheetah running) or focusing on an image (fire). Day 3 we showed we had some potential, and we started to get excited. There was talk of 5 minutes (which, as you may know, is my own personal project goal for the month). Our 40 seconds of meditation was solid. It was silent, and people noted a calm and felt an appreciation for the time to get deeper into the stillness.

Honestly, I went in with a hint of skepticism, thinking each day would be like the first but for longer. That first day, though it was noisy, I felt the power a moment together like that could have. Each of us individually seeking the stillness within somehow created a strong sense of community.

Even after four short meditations, I find myself observing my breath more often or the tension in my body. When I feel myself tensing up, I deepen my breath and try to recreate that feeling from the meditation. During moments of stress or intense emotion, I feel a heightened awareness of the way my body feels and have remembered to breathe rather than react. All this from just over a minute and a half of meditation over four days!

Later it struck me — I am an adult, but these are 11 year olds meditating! Children! Children younger than they are can meditate daily as well. Thinking about the benefits of a quiet moment, I began to wonder:

What would my world feel like if everyone around me had meditated daily, if we all sought stillness of mind and body for at least one minute a day since the age of 11? The age of 7? 3? ……………

Go ahead and try it.

  • Day 1: 10 seconds of meditation
  • Add ten seconds each day up to one minute
  • One week at one minute
  • Add a minute each week
  • There  is no maximum time limit!

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