Silent Meditation is a great way to deal with the stresses of life, to become more calm and centered, to become more who you are. It’s not the only way to accomplish these things, but it’s one of the simplest.
Silent Meditation with Children
Silent meditation can be a peaceful grounding practice for children. While a regular practice of silent meditation is not for everyone, knowing how to meditate in silence is a skill every Unitarian Universalist child (and adult) will benefit from learning.
If you are an adult who wants to teach the young people in your life to do silent meditation, one of the best strategies is to take the time to have your own silent meditation practice. By doing it yourself, you set a good example, and you can better help others as they learn how to sit in stillness and quiet. Adults and youth who want to learn a simple meditation technique can read The Relaxation Responses by Herbert Benson.
- Have the child choose a natural object that appeals to them. (Have a selection of pretty stones, attractive dried leaves or grasses, pine cones, etc.)
- Have them hold it in their hands and admire it. Look at every detail. Tell them that they don’t have to think of anything else. Now we’ll sit in silence for two minutes.(For this kind of meditation, we would start children off with two minutes of silence, and work up to longer times.)
- End the meditation time by saying: “Let the beauty we love, be what we do.”
When weather permits, this kind of meditation works even better outdoors. When you’re outdoors, young people can look around for their own natural object. Alternatively, you can have them listen to all the sounds of the outdoors, and at the end of your time of silence you can share all the sounds you heard (wind in the trees, birds, cars, perhaps animals, etc.) Or you can lie at the foot of a big tree and gaze up into its branches for a time of silence, as yet another form of outdoor meditation.
Try lighting a candle (or a flaming chalice) –
Maybe use some of the words for lighting a chalice that you’ll find on this website, and then just sit in silence for two or more minutes watching the candle flame. (If you light a small candle like a birthday candle, you can watch it until it burns all the way down). Often even people who resist the idea of silent meditation will like this practice.
Make a “Mind Jar”
Find a jar–spice jar, baby food size, or even a mason jar. First, put some glitter in the jar. Fill the jar 3/4ths full with warm water, then the rest of the way up (with some room for shaking) with glycerin. You can find glycerin at the craft store, grocer or pharmacy. After the glycerin, add four drops of liquid soap and a drop or two of food coloring. Put the lid, tightly on the jar, then shake it. It is essentially like creating a snow globe The goal is that when your child is feeling out of control, they shake the jar, then sit and watch the glitter settle in the water. It is like our minds when we are angry, frustrated, things feel impossible–our minds and emotions are all shook up. As the glitter settles, have them imagine that their thoughts are settling calmly and peacefully.
This a lovely little book that introduces meditation to young children. “Sometimes life seems like it’s all about hurrying – so many places to go! And sometimes it’s hard when things don’t go your way – it can make a piggy angry and sad. How do young piggies find a peaceful place in a busy world? They meditate!” Author Kerry Lee MacLean draws on her experience as a children’s meditation therapist in this joyful storybook guide. Her bright, whimsical paintings depict how this simple ritual can help children and families.