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Lions Roar : July 2015
HOW TO PRACTICE Metta with Children You’re never too young to practice loving-kindness. GAIL SILVER on how to teach metta to your kids. WHEN I RETURNED HOME after attending my first silent retreat, I was overflowing with loving-kindness and found myself spontaneously reciting cer- tain phrases of the metta prayer aloud: May you be happy. May you be safe. May you be strong. May you live with ease. “Did you just tell me to live with ‘peas’?” my littlest one asked me. “No, honey,” I laughed. “I said, ‘ease.’ May you live with ease.” GAIL SILVER is the director of Yoga Child, Inc. Her most recent children’s book is Peace, Bugs, and Understanding (Parallax). ILLUSTRATIONSBYTOMIUM Derived from the ancient Pali scrip- tures, metta translates into English as friendliness or loving-kindness. It’s com- monly used to refer to a type of medita- tion where the practitioner, by reciting specific phrases, wishes herself well-being and then gradually extends that wish to others before offering it universally to all beings everywhere. Practicing metta enriches our lives by creating a warm-hearted feeling within us, and elevating our capacity for benevolence and compassion. This pleasant effect can be immediate, but more often it arises subtly, manifesting in our everyday life as contentment and a renewed appreciation for other people. Once we understand metta, we can use it not only to inform and soften our lives but also those of our children. SELECT A QUIET SPACE, free of distrac- tion, and a time of day when your child is rested, fed, and relatively content. The duration of your practice will vary depending upon the age of your child, but as you progress together, your child’s ability to sit for longer periods may become apparent. Yours may as well. SIT COMFORTABLY on a cushion, chair, or sofa. The intention is for the body to feel at ease and the mind to be alert. Invite your child to close her eyes and feel her breath moving in and out of her body. If she’d like, she can count her breaths. Attending to the breath in this way allows the mind to release distracting SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 31 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE