How to Hold a Family Meditation
About This Resource
Benefits of family meditation
“In our blended family of seven, we found that regular meditation sessions began to work wonders. Not only did each individual family member slow down and cheer up, but the entire family dynamic began to change in ways we had never expected. New channels of communication opened up that we didn’t even realize were missing. After a while we found ourselves on a whole new ground, a much more open, loving supportive and enriching one than we stood on before.”
–Kerry Lee MacLean, The Family Meditation Book
How to create an inspiring environment for family meditation
Perhaps you already have an inspiring shrine space to share with your children. Here some suggestions on how to create a supportive environment for family meditation and how children can feel included:
- a meditation cushion for everyone to sit on
- some shrine items chosen by your children
- a bell or a gong to ring at the beginning and end of the session.
- a candle that a child can light and/or incense/a flower
How long to meditate for and what methods to use?
Children can start sitting for a minute or two, and gradually over time can add another minute when they are ready.
Children usually love to ring the gong at the beginning and end of the meditation, or you can use egg timers, or meditation apps such as insight timer to time the meditation.
It can be fun to explore different methods of meditation together, such as watching the breath, listening to sound, or using movement as meditation, or taste, or meditating outside in nature.
Here are some additional things you can do during the family meditation session:
Watch a video on meditation together, such as one from Headspace. Here are some suggestions:
Meditation Underlying Calm
Meditation Tips: Understanding Dark Thoughts
Or watch a video teaching together, for example: Mingyur Rinpoche’s teaching on taming our wild Monkey Mind:
Or read a story with your children which explains meditation (find a book list below)
What about younger children?
Young children really benefit from being in the atmosphere of your practice, they love the rituals, such as lighting candles and opening the shrine. Often, they like to mimic their parents and can meditate quite naturally for a few moments beside you – if so, be spacious, and keep it simple, light and fun. You can also provide some books in the room or a special toy or colouring book for them to remain and play quietly in the environment of your practice.
Here is some advice for parents of younger children: from Phakchok Rinpoche, who has two younger children. Phakchok Rinpoche is the grandson of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and the eldest brother of Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche.
Books on Meditation
For children under 5
- Just Me and My Mind, Kerry Lee MacLean
- Zen tails series, Peter Whitfield
a number of good books on different Buddhist topics
For children aged 5-10
- Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda, Kerry Lee MacLean and Alderfer
- Moody Cow Meditates, Kerry Lee MacLean
- Peaceful Piggy Meditation, Kerry Lee MacLean
- The Hermit and the Well, Thich Nhat Hanh
- Ziji the Puppy who learned to Meditate, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Torey Hayden
For teenagers, aged 11+
- Buddha in your backpack, Franz Metcalf
- Finding peace in a frantic world, Mark Williams
- Joy of Living, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
- The Mindful Teen, Dzung Vo
- Wide Awake, Diana Winston
Photo by bady qb