Meditation is a skill that comes with diverse and practical benefits. A calm, focus, clear state of mind is something that anyone can appreciate. that being said, meditation is a skill. It is not a simple gimmick that anyone can pick up in a mere moment or two. It takes time, and a fair bit of dedication to really master it. Often times it take adults sustained daily practice to gain proficiency with any of the meditation forms, so don’t get frustrated if your child has difficulty. I’d suggest looking on it as both an exercise in personal development for them, and one in patience for you.
I am going to break meditation into two groups, active and passive. Active meditations really are about moving and acting in complete harmony with one’s self, many of the spiritual martial arts could be described this way. Tai’chi chaun is a great example, slow, stately movements suitable for all ages. Calm and serene it still doesn’t involve getting a possibly rambunctious kid to sit still for an extended period of time. Other examples would include Zen Archery, or the construction of the Tibetan sand mandalas. Passive meditations the stereotypical image of the wise old yogi sitting on the mountain in the lotus position. There are several different asanas (aka positions) used in these meditations, while sitting cross legged or in a version of the lotus is common, standing kneeling and even sitting upright in a chair with your hands on your knees are acceptable. The importance is on a stable position, with your muscles held tensed. If you are interested in a standing form, I highly suggest researching one of the Chinese Qiqong forms, as they incorporate both active and passive elements.
It is my earnest recommendation that if you are seriously to person a course of meditation for your children that you yourself involve yourself in it. Don’t simply send them to meditate when you would rather not deal with them. Make it a part of your daily family life. As they grow older those rare moments of calm and peace will become all the more precious. Also consider yoga in addition to meditation, the limberness and flexibility is useful in life and will make getting in and out of a full lotus actually possible.
Yoga to us in the West is mostly a set of limberness and flexibility exercises, but in reality that is just part of it. Most of the meditations in the world today are derived or similar to the various yogic forms from India. The three most common and the ones I will touch on here are Pranayama, Niyama and Mantra. Pranayama is perhaps the most basic, simply put you are establishing and maintaining a breathing cycle. For those new to the practice it is done as a four count inhale, hold for four counts, a long slow four count exhale and another four count hold before beginning the cycle again. In time, the initial count remains the same while the others are slowly increasing as focus and breathing improves. It is important to go slowly with this. while it is possible for a yogi to go for over a minute before restarting, they have years or decades of practice and training that allows them to reach that level.
Niyama is perhaps the most difficult for a Westerner to practice. Meditation can be a challenge for us in general, but ti simply sit and let everything go. Simply sit and be is contrary to our nature or so it seems. the use of a Mantra accomplishes a similar end while giving the practitioner something to focus on. It can really be anything, words to live by are often a good choice, or phrases that have personal meaning.
When working with children, you should keep the sessions short. Frustrated children will have even more difficulty with the techniques. Simple rhythms, such as ocean sound or music with a drum beat set to 3/4 or 6/8 time signature will work best. Start slow, and actively encourage meditation a a time of peace and calm, for everyone.