Happy Valentines Day! We hope that you are enjoying a day filled with love for your family, your friends, your children, and yourself! Here is a child friendly version of a loving kindness meditation practice that you can share with your students or your own child today. This is one of many activities that will be included in our upcoming book: Little Flower Yoga for Kids, being released this summer by New Harbinger Press.
Caring Feelings 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 wellbeing. In a traditional adult loving kindness practice, kind thoughts would be sent the self, to people close to you, to people you feel neutral about, and to people who you are angry or upset with. In our version, we are going to start with someone that your child loves very much, as this is the easiest way to access your kindness. We will end with the self, and eventually, after this practice becomes familiar, you can try including someone challenging.
- Begin by finding a comfortable seat, and closing your eyes.
- Bring to mind someone that you love very much. 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.
- Now we are going to send some wishes to the person you’ve brought to mind. Let’s say the following together to the people we are imagining: “May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you be peaceful, May you be filled with joy.”
- Next we are going to send some kind thoughts to the people in our family – siblings and parents and aunts and uncles and cousins. Let’s say to them: “May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you be peaceful, May you be filled with joy.”
- Next lets imagine sending loving kindness to children around the world. The ones that we know, and the one’s that we don’t know. Imagine all of the children living around the world, the ones in your own neighborhood, and the ones that are living far away in other countries. Let’s say to them: “May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you be peaceful, May you be filled with joy.”
- Now finally, we are going to send loving kindness to ourselves. Sometimes it can be challenging to send kind wishes 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. Now say to yourself three times, “May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I be peaceful, May I be filled with joy.”
- Sit quietly for a moment or two until you hear the sound of the singing bowl, then you’ll know that it’s time to open your eyes.
Follow Up: Ask your child how he felt about sending out the kind feelings, especially how it felt sending them to himself. You might talk about times when he sent unkind feelings to others or to himself, and how that felt. Ask him if there is anyone else he would like to send kind 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 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 them feel better, even if they are still upset with the other person.