How to teach the whole family to meditate | Family meditation
Family meditation is something that you should consider if you want to welcome more peace, happiness and calm into your family life. Many people say that hate meditation, but there are ways to get around that with a bit of perseverance. In truth, meditation is both difficult and easy, depending on your mindset. Much like going to the gym and eating healthy, nutritious food, meditating regularly is something that does take effort, but is so rewarding.
Why should your whole family meditate?
Teaching your family to meditate is a really great way to bring your family closer together. In many households, there is one meditator, then there might be a couple of people who are “on the fence” about it, and then maybe one or two people who say that they hate meditation, or who might resist it.
In today’s busy, digital world, so many people are stuck to their devices, and maybe can’t even see why their smartphones are a “trap”. Kids are being bullied more than a generation ago, children as young as 3 or 4 are reporting stress and mothers and fathers are busier than ever, and their children are competing for their time. When the whole family meditates together, they feel closer, are better able to deal with stress, and they have an “out” for the day that doesn’t involve screen time (for kids) or substances like alcohol (for parents).
Why is meditation so beneficial?
There are thousands of studies online that have delved into the benefits of meditation. Some of the reported benefits of meditation include better attention spans, better recollection and retention of information, executive control functions greatly improved, easing of social anxiety disorder, and even prevention of mental illness. Read some of the studies on positive benefits of meditation here.
And the good news is, unlike starting a weight loss program, or beginning a gym routine or a course of vitamins, meditation is 100% safe. You don’t need to consult your doctor to begin meditating, and if you get it wrong, you can’t hurt or injure yourself (well, it would be very unlikely as a beginner!).
Can children meditate?
Meditation is safe for children, and is now a recommended part of many school routines. “It’s almost as though meditation was designed for kids,” explains Headspace’s co-founder, Andy Puddicombe. “They just ‘get it’ – there is this elasticity and freedom in their minds which allows them to be present in the moment and free from any external thoughts or pressures.” Often as adults, we place pressures on kids that they don’t have; assuming that they will find meditation difficult, boring or uninteresting. Often, they’re more open to it than you might think.
“By introducing meditation and mindfulness at an early age, not only can we build on this and help nurture their mind development, but we are also making meditation simple and accessible,” Puddicombe says. Meditation for kids is becoming more popular and family meditation can be a great way to start the kids on the right path. Read this article on age appropriate meditation for kids.
My partner hates meditation, what can I suggest?
One of the biggest challenges for potential meditators is getting over the “hatred” of it! Here are some hate meditation tips to share with the resistant meditator in your life.
- Persevere: nothing good is easy. Like building up a muscle in the gym, your mind’s muscles take time to build up as well.
- Start slowly: 10 minutes a day is a great place to start. 5 minutes is probably too short to get any real benefit, so start with 10 and build from there.
- Meditate with others: there is strength in practice when you meditate with others. Draw on the strength of the group to keep you going. This is where family meditation can really help you.
- Meditate somewhere appropriate: meditating outside is not for beginners. Find a quiet, clean space where you will not be interrupted.
- Get it done early: you will be too tired later in the busy day to get any really good work done. Get your meditation practice done as early in the morning as possible.
3 unique styles of meditation to try
From young children, to teenagers, to adults and oldies – here are a few meditation techniques for the family that you can try.
Meditation on a spiritual place
Here’s a way to make meditation for the family more fun. For this exercise, it is imperative that you choose a spiritual place that you would like to visit. This could be a real place, or even an imagined place, like Atlantis, or a place that used to exist that is no longer whole, like the Roman Forum in Rome. You might even want to check out a different planet or find out what it’s like in the ocean, or in space.
Check out my article on Making meditation fun: meditation on a spiritual place for a comprehensive instruction on this technique. This can be a great way to get started for older children and teenagers, who have vivid imaginations.
Walking meditation in nature
Even though I have said that meditating outdoors is not ideal for beginners who want to get serious about their practice, meditating outside can be a great family activity. Make sure you take all the gear you need, such as water, a snack for the end of your hike or walk, some wet weather gear and boots.
Start your family on their meditation by asking them to reconnect with the 5 senses: what can they hear, see, smell, touch and taste? Returning the body to the 5 senses is a great way to become grounded. Walk silently in nature together, observing everything you sense. Gather together at the end, and talk about what you discovered.
There are now so many guided meditation apps on the web which I suggest you use with caution. Guided meditations can be a great way to get started, but you shouldn’t rely on them as part of your daily practice when you improve.
There are many guided meditation CDs and apps designed specifically for kids, but make sure you listen to them first to assess them for quality, as some are definitely better than others. Relying on music and talking to get you “into the zone” is really just a crutch, after all. Although this can be a great way to start with family meditation.
A final note on family meditation
I am a big fan of Vipassana, and I have done several 10 day silent retreats in Blackheath, Sydney. You can read about my experiences here What you can expect at Vipassana meditation courses, Blackheath, Blue Mountains, New South Wales.
Many Vipassana centres also cater to children and teens, so check out programs in your local area.