We are navigating wild times as we experience a global health crisis. When we feel anxious and stressed this is directly passed onto our children because they feel us. They are connected to our energy. I wrote my award-winning book, Mother Om, 6 years ago when I was running a successful business teaching kids yoga and meditation.
I share chapters from my book “Mother Om” below as it is filled with practical information on how to help kids feel calm and how to teach them these life skills. It is based on the teachings of yoga and mindfulness that will help us all feel more connected and build resilience together in a time of uncertainty.
Homeschooling, lockdowns, working from home can be extremely stressful. This is a time to be as present as you can with your kids. Connect with them. Be with them. Teach them about being healthy. Do meditations with them. Give them your time.
UNPLUG AND PLAY.
100 years from now it will not matter what kind of car you drove, what kind of house you lived in, how much money you had or what your clothes looked like. But, the world may be a little better because you were important in a child’s life.
According to UNICEF, the unhappiest children in the world are in the UK and the USA – two of the most powerful and among the wealthier countries in the world.
Yet when we travel, we see children in the most impoverished places with smiles from ear to ear. In India, where a majority of people live in poverty, they also live with open hearts and are genuinely happy and kind. Kids play with sticks and stones for hours.
Family is strong.
The popular African proverb ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child’ seems lost in our developed world. Many of us live away from our families and are disconnected from our roots.
This is why we need to support, guide and nurture our children so they feel more able to cope with the inevitable trials and tribulations that life will throw at them.
Saving our children.
Research suggests that depression is being seen in children as young as three years old. The scariest thing is that children can suffer psychologically without telling anyone or because the issue is not being dealt with.
Children from affluent backgrounds are not immune, often struggling despite being showered with gifts in compensation for the one thing they need most – time with their most important role models, their mother and father.
Learning the lessons that count.
At school, children get taught how to read, write and do arithmetic but they also need to be taught about reflection, relationships and resilience. Compassion and empathy must be taught so they can build and sustain good relationships, whether at home, at school, or out in the world.
Encourage mindful reflection.
Children have the ability to be unstoppable. But because they, as humans, are incredibly complex beings, they need to learn about how their feelings and thoughts work, as well as about numbers and grammar.
As those of us who already have a spiritual practice know, life will always challenge us, no matter how sophisticated or simple, rich or poor we are. So we cannot expect our children to navigate their way through the minefield of life without understanding what being mindful means.
Introduce your child to yoga, which is about being whole.
Your job as teacher.
It’s a big job being your child’s most important teacher. They need to learn about the workings of their brain, their mind and their relationships; how to discover their specialness, their purpose and their goodness; how their thoughts and feelings become their actions; how to care for their bodies, and develop their intelligence, a social conscience and creativity; plus much more. So let’s look at your job description as mother more closely.
Teaching about self.
Your job as a mother is to help your child discover the best about themselves, so that they understand what their purpose is in life, what their talents are and the best way to use them. You must also help them understand what it means to be a good person, so they need to understand their thoughts and feelings, which will become their actions.
Teaching about body.
The problems of unhealthy eating and inactivity are massive lifestyle issues children need to know about. One-quarter of Australian kids are overweight or obese due to unhealthy food choices – being given and choosing highly processed convenience food full of fat and sugar – and a lack of physical activity.
Your responsibility begins with giving your children healthy food from the first mouthful and being a role model in the way you live.
Overweight parents often raise overweight children. And overweight kids become overweight adults.
Be aware of the many health and social problems that come with overweight and obesity, including children being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (not the genetic type of diabetes but the type that results from an unhealthy lifestyle).
Show your child what healthy food is and explain that we need to eat a balanced diet to nourish our body and mind.
Teach your child about eating whole foods.
Teaching about physicality, flexibility and resilience
Kids need to be active. They need to be outside playing in nature. Let them climb trees so they learn how to fall and get back up again.
Many children suffer from asthma and allergies. Many are overprotected – wrapped in cotton wool.
Let kids get dirty. This is not only an essential part of play but it will test and strengthen their immune system, too.
The original play station didn’t need plugging in – it was known as the backyard, local park, bush reserve or neighbourhood street.
The original play station was playing outside.
Teaching about unplugged fun.
Being plugged into technology has had a big impact on all our lives, including the way we read – we now skim and scan information, our minds jumping around like a monkey swinging from one branch to the next.
Screen time is addictive and affects our ability to interact with each other. We just send a text or an email instead of calling or seeing each other. We all desire connectedness but social media disconnects us more than we realise.
Children are plugged in from an early age watching unlimited hours of TV, so much of which involves violence, and prepares them for the next transition – video games. Studies show playing violent video games does not necessarily make children violent, but it does show that these children lack empathy. Video games also suppress imagination.
We need to encourage creativity, imagination and the joy of social interaction. Children need to get bored so they can get creative.
Our children are best described as ‘tired but wired’.
Less overstimulation and more imagination.
So many children are in fulltime care from an early age. Once at school, their schedule often includes before-and-after-school care, plus an extensive list of extra activities, followed by hours of homework.
At my yoga classes I see the physical effects of all of this and screen-obsession in kids with poor flexibility and a real lack of imagination.
Imagination is everything.
Some parents are too busy even to read stories to their children and many of today’s children have trouble sleeping because they are so overstimulated, they just cannot switch off.
Bring back quality time.
A friend of mine took her son to a psychologist as he seemed negative and withdrawn. The advice she got was to spend quality time with him, doing whatever the child wanted to do for a certain amount of time every day.
This sounds like a simple thing but in reality it is a significant challenge to find that time consistently. But our children need our love and attention, and if we ignore them because we are too busy they will feel they cannot tell us the little things that are wrong. Then, over time, they will not tell us the bigger issues they are facing.
Don’t miss another heart-melting moment with your children.
Above all, be present as often as you can.
But, you say, I am constantly on the go being a chauffeur, grocery shopping, working, doing housework, being a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend… the list goes on. We are bombarded with distractions.
It would be unrealistic in this life for us to be physically present with our children all the time. But when you are with them, be really present.
By being distracted all the time you are telling them they are not important and you are missing precious moments you may never get a chance to experience again. Being present helps us to tune in and feel connected. It also eliminates some of the guilt we feel as parents.
Time to reflect.
We seem to have forgotten how to log off, take our child’s hand and go for a walk to refresh our minds.
School counsellor, Michelle Ormsby says children don’t play in the same way anymore and it’s affecting their brains and resilience.
“Creative play is an essential part of child development,” she says, “as is learning emotional literacy and social skills.
“In my work as a school counsellor I see children with low emotional intelligence, poor social skills, lack of resilience and anxiety, who feel disconnected. As clinical psychiatrist Daniel Siegel of the Mindsight Institute notes, ‘the brain circuitry of resilience can be built through reflective practices and relational skills’.
“In my work, I aim to help children and young people develop and grow through encouraging and nurturing the very practices and skills that Siegel suggests. One of the best tools I can teach children to support this is mindfulness, either of their breath, simply becoming present or through meditation.
“The ‘Smiling Mind’ program combines mindfulness with technology by offering modern meditations in an accessible and age-appropriate way via an app or the internet, which is how I have been sharing this tool lately.
“My work is like planting seeds with great care in a garden that will grow slowly. Through regular mindfulness and yoga practice, children learn resilience, to calm their minds, feel more connected and to play again, in the present moment.”
Mamata mindful moment in nature.
Take your child on a walk and look at all the colours, sights, sounds and textures. Discuss what you can see, hear, smell and feel.
If you prefer to walk alone then go on a silent walk and be fully present. You will be amazed at the beauty you will experience through your senses.
Find your mindful moment today.
– Read your child a fairy tale.
– Turn off the TV and get creative.
– Unplug, play and be present with your kids.
– Eat healthy food together as a family.
– Get outside and climb a tree.
– Go for a mindful bushwalk.
The future is a mystery, tomorrow is history and today is a gift, that is
why they call it the present. Kung Fu Panda
Babies are born awake, with a Zen-like ‘beginner’s’ mind – they see each moment with fresh eyes, fully open to all possibilities.
Young children are present in the beauty of the moment. Just observe them playing, having a tantrum or laughing uncontrollably. But as they grow up in this society, their minds become muddled with consumerism and conformity. And, as a result, children develop a ‘butterfly mind’ that flits from one thing to the next, which makes focussing on one task at a time a struggle.
Teaching children mindfulness allows them to learn how to slow down, focus with purpose and pay attention. In turn, this creates self-awareness.
In her book 10 Mindful Lives Giving Our Children – and Ourselves
– the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for
Healthier, Happy Lives, Goldie Hawn says children need to know that their minds matter. She also says they need to be taught how their brain works so they can understand their thoughts and feelings, and this is how she explains the brain to a child:
Practising mindfulness is a great way to give your brain a break.
“Your brain is really important, without it you cannot see, hear, run, talk or do anything. It’s like a big walnut, but softer, and is protected by your skull. It has two fists called hemispheres.
“Different parts of the brain are responsible for different things. One part, the reptilian, helps you do things without thinking, like breathing and your heart beating. The other side is the emotional brain that tells us how we are feeling. It has an amygdala like a guard dog that barks when something good or bad is happening. Like telling us to smile when we see our friends or run when we are being chased.
“The biggest part is the cortical brain. It remembers things and helps us pay attention. At the front of the cortical brain is the pre-frontal cortex, like a wise owl. It helps us plan, solve problems and make choices. It makes sure our emotions do not take over when we are happy or sad.”
To look after that brain on a regular basis, Goldie Hawn recommends we all – children, mothers, everyone – switch off for 10 minutes a day to have a ‘brain break’.
Mindfulness and thoughts, choice and anxiety
Mindful awareness is paying attention on purpose to whatever is happening in the here and now, without any judgement. Mindfulness does not aim to change our thoughts – it is about changing our relationship to our thoughts. It shows us that we can choose the path we take, and that our thoughts are not permanent.
An important lesson is to understand we do not need to believe everything we think. It feels like our thoughts are very powerful but our thoughts are not facts. We can choose how we respond and react.
We know anxiety is the most common psychological problem in children. That is so partly because our brain tells us what our response should be in certain situations, and fear can trigger an irrational emotion. For example, some children have terrible nightmares and get really scared because they believe monsters are living under their beds.
How mindfulness can help.
For children with anxiety, mindfulness teaches them not to get caught up in the story – to bring their mind into the present and use it to become aware of the thoughts and triggers that are making them feel anxious.
When the mind is not in the present, anxiety comes from being stuck in the past or worrying about the future.
How do you come back to the present moment? Use your senses and tune into the sounds, smells, sights and sensations that surround you right now.
If you are depressed, you are living in the past
If you are anxious you are living in the future
If you are peaceful you are living in the present.
Learning how to breathe mindfully and teaching your child how to do it is a beautiful expression of your love as a mother. It is the ultimate coping mechanism you and your child can use all through life.
Mindful breathing is not just a meditation, it is also contemplation.
As I said previously, mindful awareness is paying attention on purpose to whatever is happening in the here and now, without any judgement. By mindfully breathing for just 10 minutes a day, we strengthen and grow what Goldie Hawn calls the wise owl – the pre-frontal cortex. This allows us to feel positive feelings and dismiss negative feelings. The following mindful breathing exercises are perfect for children.
Ten deep breaths to calm down.
A simple way to help children feel relaxed and grounded. Speak slowly. Children breathe twice as fast as adults so the trick is to get them to slow down and breathe deeply.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
This time, breathe in through your nose and as you breathe out through your mouth, make a sighing sound.
Now, breathe in through your nose and as you breathe out through your mouth, make a sighing sound and focus on breathing all the air out of your tummy.
Great, thatís three times. Let’s do seven more.
1. Pretend to blow away the rain – simply cup your hands, breathe in and blow.
2. Blowing bubbles – try to create a really big bubble without it popping.
3. Blowing pom poms and feathers – have a race to see who can blow a pom pom or feather across the room, and then use a straw to make it more difficult.
4. Bubbling milk – use a straw in a tall glass quarter-filled with milk and gently blow lots of bubbles.
Breathing using the senses.
Help your kids calm down by breathing through their senses.
Bee breathing (Bhramari breath).
This clears the mind and the humming helps children feel relaxed.
Make a humming noise.
Place your hands over your ears and close your eyes.
Use a Hoberman sphere (available from kids scientific and toy shops) and open and close the ball to represent your belly rising and falling as you breathe.
Take little sniffs of air in through your nose and then breathe out through your mouth.
Hot and cold hand
Put the palm of your hand up next to your mouth and breathe ñ in feels cold and out feels warm.
Now repeat with your other hand in front of your nose as you breathe in and out.
Think about something, anything.
Now imagine that thought is in a balloon.
Imagine the thought in a particular colour of balloon.
Now imagine letting go of that balloon and watching that thought float far, far away inside it.
Now take another thought and place it on a leaf floating away down a river until it is out of sight.
Sit down at the table with a plateful of small serves of your favourite healthy foods in front of you.
Now take a mouthful, close your eyes and really taste the food as you chew it, thinking about its flavour, its texture, its very own special taste.
Swallow and repeat with each food on the plate, breathing in and out deeply with each thought and taste.
This is great for children who are feeling anxious. The colour blue is healing, while breathing out the colour black helps let go of thoughts and feelings.
Close your eyes and as you breathe in visualise a picture or imagine you are breathing in the colour blue, and as you breathe out imagine black air is coming out.
Mamata mindful Zen garden making.
Making a Zen garden is all about contemplation, and expressing thoughts and feelings. It encourages discussion and openness, and supports a child in understanding themselves and those around them. It is a wonderful activity that calms and grounds a child. So give your child a few chopsticks, a bowl and a handful of stones or pebbles and let them create a garden design that represents their thoughts and feelings. Any surface will do but you can use sand or gravel or put it in a box. You can add anything that makes your child feel calm. Talk about their garden with them as they make asking them how it makes them feel and what the garden represents. Perhaps it represents friendship, love, harmony, peace.
What thoughts are going into your garden? What do those shapes and patterns mean? How does doing this make you feel?
The beauty of a Zen garden is that you can recreate it again and again, using it to contemplate and meditate whenever you need or want to.
This mindfulness technique can also be applied to these activities:
Free style drawing using colour
Paint some rocks (to put in your Zen garden)
Make some friendship bracelets
Fold paper to create some origami.
Mindfulness explained in a story
The student asks his teacher why he is always so happy, peaceful and relaxed, and the teacher explains how simple it is – that when he walks, he walks, when he eats, he eats, when he sleeps, he sleeps, and so on.
When the student tells the teacher that he does the same, the teacher asks what he is thinking about when he does those things.
The student tells him that when he walks, he thinks about eating. When he is eating, he thinks about sleeping, and so on.
Whatever he is doing, the student is not really there – his mind is jumping all over the place, from one thing to another.
A good way to introduce the concept of mindfulness and being present to children is through the book Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Lauren Alderfer (story) and Kerry Lee MacLean (illustrations). The panda is the teacher and the monkey is the student.
The message of the story is summarised in this quote:
ìTrue happiness comes from bringing all our attention to whatever you are doing right now. There is no need to think about whatever happened yesterday. Yesterdayís gone. And there is no need to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow isnít here. But today is all around us. Bringing your mind back to this moment, right here, over and over again, is called mindfulness.î ñ Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda
Happiness slips away from us when we dwell on what was, what might have been or what might happen.
Mamata mindful monkey meditation
A beautiful mindfulness meditation to do with children, preferably on a sunny day. Lie on a blanket on the grass next to your child.
Look up at the sky.
See how it changes all of the time.
Some days are grey and cloudy,
and we feel heavy.
Other days are bright, and we feel light.
Pretend those clouds up there are your thoughts.
They come and go, they change all the time.
Pick a white, fluffy cloud and breathe into it.
With each breath, see if it changes shape.
Use your mind to focus on it until it floats away.
Now, pick another cloudÖ
Happiness is right here and now.
Time to reflect
Everything I recommend here, I have taught and seen how well it works.
One of my favourite classes for children uses the five-senses mindfulness exercise, and it goes something like this…
We close our eyes and listen to the sounds we can hear.
The yoga studio is above a busy road so we can hear traffic.
But if we really listen, we can hear each other breathing and even our own heartbeat.
We keep listening for the silence between each sound.
We each take a date. We feel its weight, trace our fingers over it, feel the texture, smell its sweetness and study all the grooves of its skin.
We place our date in our mouth but don’t start to chew before we have absorbed the taste. Then we slowly start to chew and experience the sweetness.
We talk about where this date came from originally – it started as a grape that had been grown, then dried, put in a package and then sent to a shop. We imagine all the people involved in growing packaging and bringing us this delicious treat, from the farmer to the person in the super market, to the person who bought it for us. We think about their families and the lives they live.
This date represents the whole universe and shows we are all interconnected.
Find your mindful moment today
– Breathe in and out.
– Enjoy a walk.
– Smell some flowers.
– Hug a friend.
– Draw or paint.
– Do yoga.
– Build a sandcastle.
– Watch the clouds.
– Water the plants.
– Make a Zen garden.
– Spread some kindness.
– Climb a tree.
– Paint your fingernails.
– Count your blessings.
– Colour in a mandala.
“If every eight-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation” The Dalai Lama
Meditation teaches children to find inner stillness and, through this, the skills for coping with life. Learning to practice empathy, compassion and the art of reflection helps children to be resilient and form good relationships.
Meditation for kids
Meditation helps bring children into balance emotionally and spiritually. It allows them to let go of overwhelming thoughts and feelings, and to manage their emotions. A child who meditates can stay grounded, focused and calm. It helps them learn who they are and builds their confidence. It gives them a sense of purpose and place in this world, and a stronger mind to solve the problems and challenges of life.
But meditating with children is not sitting on a cushion in complete silence for half an hour. Instead, children need to be taught how to settle themselves, and they need to feel safe as you guide them and show them how to explore their inner self.
You are their greatest teacher, so practise with them until they feel comfortable doing it independently.
Teaching a child to meditate
You can teach a child how to meditate and practise mindfulness from an early age because they are already present and their mind is open. Teaching a young child can actually be easier than teaching an adult as they do not over-analyse and judge everything you say.
If you want to meditate with your children, you need to let go of what you believe meditation should be and just observe and accept whatever the outcome is. You may want your child to sit still and be attentive, for example, while they may want to wriggle about and be anything but attentive.
Meditation is a personal choice, however, so suggest some options (see below) and empower your child by asking what they want to do. Keep in mind that if a child is feeling they are being controlled, they are unlikely to settle.
Also keep in mind that, just like you, your child is constantly evolving and will feel different every day. Expect unpredictability and go with the flow – what works one day may not work the next. To begin with, start with a meditation approach that is consistent with your child’s age and stage of development
Choose a short and sweet meditation, as toddlers may only be able to sit still for a minute. Bedtime is the perfect opportunity to introduce meditation, and you can increase the time spent meditating by tiny increments.
Start your story with, “Close your eyes and be very still.” Use repetition each time you start and finish by singing or chanting your favourite song. To calm them, rub their third eye centre, which is in between their eyes.
Four- to six-year-olds.
You can expect a child of this age to sit or lie down for up to
10 minutes, especially during a guided journey or story. See the guided meditation on the next page as a good place to start.
Seven- to 12-year-olds.
Do an object meditation and introduce a mantra like ‘calm’ on the inhale and ‘peace’ on the exhale. Counting the breath is also a good distraction for the mind. Start to count each inhale and exhale up to 10 and then start back at 1. To challenge your child, start at 50 and count backwards on each inhale and exhale. If the mind wanders, go back to 50.
Structuring the meditation.
When beginning a meditation, it is important for a child to be grounded and centred. The breath is the first stepping-stone on this path for children. It is always with us, anytime, anywhere. The breath also brings us directly into the present moment.
For younger children, get them to place a hand in front of their nose so they can become aware of their breath by feeling it. Make it visual to help them understand the breath. Let them picture themselves blowing bubbles with each out breath. Now, bring focus and concentration into the meditation. Use the other senses and gently guide your child with words and phrases.
To end the meditation, bring your child back gently into the present moment by asking them to open their eyes and to wriggle their fingers and toes.
Make a game of it.
Try one or all of these meditation gems with your children. Be sensitive to which one or ones work best for your child. It is okay for this kind of meditation to feel more like calm fun than something really serious. It is a great way to start a lifelong practice that will develop as your kids grow and develop – calmly.
Magic carpet ride.
Start by getting comfortable with your child. They can lie down or have their head in your lap. You can make up a story about anything your child loves. Add colour, texture, smells, sounds and a little magic. Here is one to get you started on your journey.
Relax and close your eyes and be very still.
Imagine you are a wizard or a fairy riding on a magical carpet.
The carpet is the colour of the rainbow and feels so soft. As you touch it, you feel calm and peaceful.
This special carpet can take you anywhere you want to go. All you have to do is relax and it will take you flying through the clouds. Hold on tight, here we go.
Can you feel the wind on your face? You are flying through the clouds and you feel so happy. Can you feel the sun on your face? You feel so free.
You can keep flying for as long as you wish and when you are ready you can float back down to your bed.
Now wriggle your fingers and toes, have a stretch and open your eyes.
Start by sitting quietly with your child.
Close your eyes. What you can hear? It could be traffic, children playing, a clock ticking, or birds singing.
Ask them to close their eyes. Ask what they can hear.
Now open and close your eyes again with them. Ask if they can hear the sound of their own breathing. What does it sound like?
Open and close your eyes again with them. Ask if they can hear the sound of their heart beating.
Helping your child gradually bring their awareness within will calm and settle them.
Without your child seeing it, bring a crystal, pebble, feather or other small natural object that would interest them. For this example, we are using a crystal because these little pockets of energy are very comforting for children.
Ask your child to close their eyes and place the object in their hands.
With their eyes still closed, ask them to say or guess what the object is.
Now ask them to open their eyes.
Use the following script, pausing after each sentence.
Imagine you have been given this crystal to look after forever. You need to know everything about it so that even if you dropped it in a pond, you would be able to find it just by looking and feeling.
Notice its shape and colour.
Now, close your eyes again.
Notice how heavy the crystal is.
Feel the crystal all over with your fingertips.
Is it soft or hard?
Is it cool or warm?
Trace your fingers over it.
Is it rough or smooth?
Can you imagine where it came from?
Imagine the sun that has shone on this crystal.
Can you feel the sunshine on the crystal?
How does the sunshine feel?
Imagine all the rain that has fallen on this crystal.
Can you feel the rain on the crystal? How does the rain feel?
Hold the crystal up to your nose. Does it have a smell?
Imagine how safe the crystal feels in your hand.
Hold the crystal so you can feel safe and warm, too.
Keep your child still for another 30 seconds, then gently end
Gently open your eyes.
How do you feel inside?
Look at the beautiful crystal.
Does it look any different?
Sit with your child and light a scented candle.
Both close your eyes.
What does the burning candle smell like?
Now open your eyes and look at the flame until your eyes start to water.
Close your eyes and picture the flame in your mind’s eye.
Just sit together and continue to breathe deeply. Your child can watch the flame if they don’t want to close their eyes.
Now, do Lovely listening and at the end, connect with your body.
Before opening your eyes, notice the parts of your body that are connected to the floor.
How does it feel?
If thoughts are coming up, try to let them go and just observe them. Imagine you are blowing them away.
Gently open your eyes.
How do you feel inside?
Shake your mind jar.
Make a glitter-and-water-filled mind jar (the recipe is below) and get your kids to give it a good shake. The glitter will swirl around the jar – just like the thoughts in a stressed, frightened or too-busy mind – and then it will take about five meditative minutes for the glitter to settle, leaving the water clear.
Teach your child to use the jar to shake away upset, angry or confused thoughts, and then become calm as they watch the glitter settle and the water, and their mind, become clear.
Children really love this because it is beautiful to watch and it empowers them to have some control over their emotions. And the kids can make their own – just supervise the hot water part, and screw the lid on extra tight.
Making a mind jar –
You will need:
1 medium glass (or plastic for littlies) jar with tight-fitting lid
1 tablespoon red glitter glue
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon purple glitter
What to do
Add the red glitter glue and hot water to the jar. Stir well. (You will need glitter glue, not just glitter, to help the swirling effect and slow down the settling rate.)
Add the purple glitter, seal the jar tightly, shake and enjoy this sensory experience.
Colouring in the black and white mandala – or sacred circle – design can be a wonderful meditation practise for children.
Your child can choose a colour based on how they are feeling.
As they are colouring, you can ask how it makes them feel.
Once finished, and if it makes them feel happy and safe, your child can gaze at the mandala, using it as an object for meditation.
You can also add the coloured mandala to your child’s calm-down corner or box.
Or some children may want to use shredding the mandala as a way of letting go of feelings of stress and anxiety.
Mandalas are wonderful for the whole family to enjoy. You do not need a printed design but can make your own by drawing a circle and just letting your intuition guide you. Don’t over think what you are doing, just draw what you are feeling inside the circle. This inspires creativity and can be a healing and calming activity. This is a wonderful opportunity to use the colours of the chakras to teach your child valuable life lessons.
Kids love using colour to learn and they will remember the meanings.
Red means – I feel safe.
Orange means – I love my family.
Yellow means – I feel strong inside.
Green – I am love
Blue – I tell the truth.
Purple – I am full of goodness.
Let it come, let it go, let it flow.
Learning about R & R .
Children need to be taught how to relax. And once they know how it feels to be calm and rested, they will actually sleep better. In fact, teaching your child to find stillness, as we do in our classes, will reset their body clock for sleep.
Learning to relax and be still will bring benefits to every part of their life, and these exercises will make it an easy lesson.
The spaghetti test.
Get your child to lie down on their back, then pick up one of their legs and give it a gentle but firm shake. This will release tension and help them to feel relaxed. The aim is to become less like uncooked dried pasta, to a relaxed and flexible strand of well-cooked spaghetti. Kids love this and find it really amusing.
Do this to each of their limbs until they are relaxed all over.
Rock and jelly.
Get your child to focus on a particular part of their body – their arms and shoulders, for example – and squeeze that group of muscles really tight so they feel hard like a rock. Then get them to release those muscles and go floppy like jelly. Get them to repeat the tensing and releasing rock and jelly moves on different parts of their body until they are relaxed all over.
Pop something light and lovely, like a feather, leaf or a small soft toy, on your child’s tummy. Now, ask them to breathe in a way that takes the object for a ride up and down on the waves they create with their tummy.
Mamata meditation moment.
Children love to draw or write about how meditation makes them feel. They can write their thoughts down in a cloud or bubble. Discuss these feelings together as a family.
Time to reflect.
Our children can teach us so much about life. I believe they choose us. They are only ever lent to us so we should make the most of our time with them.
I have been teaching sisters Lola, 6, and Evie, 4, for over a year. Recently their father told me he walked into their lounge room to find the two girls sitting in lotus pose with their eyes closed in front of the TV.
I hear so many wonderful stories from parents about how their children embrace yoga and meditation.
Here are some Mamata yoga stories –
James, 3, now says Namaste when his mummy gives him his dinner.
Jessica, 4, would always say “woof woof” when her mummy wiped her bottom. She couldn’t understand why she did this until Jessica told her she was practising her downward dog yoga poses.
A mother was really struggling with her two-year-old, so they developed the practice of holding crystals together to help them calm down in moments of frustration. This worked so well that when her mother started to get frustrated, the child would look at her and say, “Stones, Mummy. ”
I taught a yoga class at a community center open day. A little girl about seven years old joined in and followed the whole story and was really enjoying herself. After the class the child’s carer said to me she was totally amazed that she had joined in and enjoyed the class so much because the little girl was completely deaf.
I received this letter from one mother who had brought her six-year-old son to one of our classes.
“Since coming to one of your classes my six-year-old son, on his own initiative, has used the calming technique with thoughts floating up in a balloon three different times to calm himself down. He has the mental age of a 10-year-old and his intelligence also means that his ability to generate emotions runs ahead of his ability to calm himself. Because of this he frequently gets overwhelmed by his emotions, so learning effective calming techniques is really helpful for him.
Find your mindful moment today
– Draw a Mandala.
– Make a mind jar.
– Light a candle and watch the flame dancing.
– Play the listening game.
– Do a crystal meditation.
– Write a meditation story for your child.
Thank you for taking the time to read these chapters. I hope you enjoy creating magical memories with your child. If you would like to know more about Mother Om check it out here
If you would like to book a session I would love to guide you from fear back to love in these times of intense uncertainly. I am an intuitive mentor, mother of 3, author, and earring maker .
Love Leonie xx