Bell and Breath Meditation for Kids

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People often ask me if younger kids can really meditate. My first answer is, sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t. BUT, they can start to understand and appreciate the value of sitting in meditation and following the breath.
If a family sets aside the time - even just a few daily minutes - and the space - just a quiet corner of any room - to talk about things like good silence, calming down the mind, following the breathe...young kids find their own way to the cushion. 

It’s a journey and a practice that is ever-evolving. 

Starting with this simple singing bowl meditation, from Sitting Together: A Family-Centered Curriculum on Mindfulness, Meditation, and Buddhist Teachings by Sumi Loundon Kim, is a great way to get them engaged. (Link to buy the book below).


Meditation Bell and Breath

To begin this meditation practice, settle into your spot and close your eyes. Now bring your awareness to your ears. I'm going to ring the bell in a just a moment, and listen carefully. Listen to the whole sound of the bell, until you cannot hear it anymore. [Ring bell and pause.] After the bell is finished ringing, listen for how many sounds you can hear outside the room. [Pause.] I am going to ring the bell one more time. when you cannot hear the sound of the bell anymore, please raise your hand. [Ring bell and Pause.]

What sounds did you hear? Its OK if you didn't know what the sound was - just describe what you heard. If there was a loud sound, how did you feel when you heard it?

Our second meditation will be to count how many breaths you take while the bell is still ringing. One breath consists of an in-breath and an out-breath together: so in, out, that one breath. Please just breath naturally, there's no need to make the breath be any different than it is. You can count on your fingers if you wish. And the you can't hear the sound of the bell anymore, please raise your hand. Let's close our eyes again. i'm going to ring the bell now, and begin counting your breaths until you can no longer hear the bell's ringing. [Ring bell and Pause.]

Show me by holding up your fingers how many breaths you took while the bell was riding. 

Now our third meditation is this: In a minute I will ring the bell. When the bell rings, notice whether you are breathing in, breathing out, or in between breaths. OK, now close your eyes. [Ring bell.]

Rise your hand when I ask these questions: When the bell rang, who was breathing in? Breathing out? In between?

This is our fourth and last listening meditation. After a minute or so of silence, I'll ring the bell. During the silence, count how many breaths you take up until the moment that I ring the bell. And then of course, you can continue to meditate by listening to the sound of the bell until it fades. You can count on your fingers if you wish. Please start counting your breath now. 

[Wait, ring bell.]

How many breaths did you take up until the bell rang?


This meditation can be found in Sitting Together: A Family-Centered Curriculum on Mindfulness, Meditation, and Buddhist Teachings by Sumi Loudon Kim. 

I love the wisdom and practices shared in these books and refer to them all of the time! You can purchase them on Amazon by clicking the image of the book. 


The Mindful Brain

"Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have”:  a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress." Harvard Business Review Jan 8 2015 "Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain."

We love proof. This kind of news item makes my day. So much better than the tidbits here and there suggesting that meditation and mindfulness is just latest craze or passing fad. 

More than 20 studies were pool together by the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology. The remarkable finding show that mindfulness affects the brain areas related to: 

- self-regulation

- learning from past experiences

stress reduction

- perception

- introspection

 - complex thinking

- senses of self

The implications for the next generation can be powerful. Imagine a whole world of grown-ups who have been practicing mindfulness since childhood.

{{Oh and ps - I've finally exploited my twin two-year-olds - check out this video of them meditating! }}