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Lions Roar : January 2019
results, repeat the movement several times and encourage your little ones to let their balloons be whatever color they choose. Walking meditation is a crowd pleaser with kids, and there are a variety of ways to practice it. You can walk slowly, linking your breaths to each step, you can count your steps, you can incorpo- rate a mantra that aligns and repeats with each step, or you might simply walk, paying attention to where you step, the faces you pass, or the world before you. Consider having your family prese- lect designated paths for walking meditation. One week someone might designate the staircase as a place for practice, and another week someone else might decide that you should all practice while en route to bed. You don’t necessar- ily all have to practice walking meditation at the same time; the important thing is that you’re each practicing. By practicing meditation techniques that draw on objects to appeal to the senses, meditation becomes develop- mentally accessible and engaging. Eating meditation provides an array of appeal- ing opportunities for contemplative practice. You might chew slowly, focus- ing on scents, tastes, and textures, or you might count the number of bites needed to eat a certain food. Another form of eating meditation asks us to look deeply at our food and understand how it came to be before us. You might encourage your children to think about all of the people and forces in the world that were involved in get- ting that banana from the tree on which it grew into their hands. This “sourcing” of our food heightens appreciation of the food we’re eating and encourages us to eat more mindfully and healthfully. To practice with sight, we can encourage kids to medi- tate with their eyes open and find a visual focal point, such as the horizon or the movement of neighborhood critters. To practice with sound, on the other hand, we’ll likely want to close our eyes to focus on what we’re hear- ing—the sound of the singing bowl, the repetition of a mantra, or early morning birdcalls. For scent, we might like to have flowers or fruit on our altars, and for touch, we might hold a small piece of clay in our hand to help us be still alongside our breath. Inquiring about the practice lets your children know you’re interested in their experience while also helping them appreciate the impact the practice is having on them and the family. When using clay as a tactile prop, I like to first let children notice its consistency as they close their fingers around the piece I’ve provided. After meditation, I ask, “How is your clay different now that we’ve meditated?” Most children are thrilled to discover how malleable the clay has become after having been warmed in their hands during meditation. This can be a jumping off point for a discussion about how we too become less rigid and more agreeable post practice. Picture books in which the characters benefit from medita- tion also inspire conversation. Books can be a precursor to the family practice or introduced as part of your regularly sched- Right: Ethan and Julia, ages 8 and 6, with their mother Jessica Finley, age 5 PHOTOBYDANFULLER