Children learn the basics of meditation in a Buddhist temple

- through Henry Oudin

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It is in the heart of the Bois de Vincennes, at the gates of Paris, at the Kagyu-Dzong Buddhist temple, founded by the Lama Gyourmé, that Dominique Butet shows young children how to meditate every month. With Yupsi the little dragon accompanying her, she offers playful experiences for everyday life.

Eleven-year-old Ismael barely pulls his mother's hand to get to the Temple faster. His jacket and shoes removed, he goes directly to the meditation room. We feel that he knows the places he and his mother discovered last year, during “Peace Day”. But for Ulysse, four years old, it's a first! With his Bambi cuddly toy stuck under his arm, he does not let go of the hand of his father Charlie, a regular at the Temple. “Meditation helps children ground, focus and manage their emotions. I would like him to have an approach to this practice and then, as he grows up, he can continue to develop this”. For his first class, he will stay with him.

Identify your emotions

In this room bathed in sunlight where the colored woodwork shines even more beautifully, the atmosphere is joyful and warm. Dominique welcomes the children with a smile that immediately gives them confidence. Teacher in kindergarten, Buddhist and practitioner of meditation, she knows how to deal with them. “We are going to have new experiences together with Yupsi the dragon, and are going to have the same curiosity as a Martian discovering this world for the first time,” she announces, presenting the three objects nicely arranged on a cushion: the Yupsi plush, bells to mark the start and end of each session, and the speaking stone for sharing what you have experienced.

Ulysses, captivated, listens to Dominique who starts his class with work on emotions. Using cards with expressive faces drawn, she asks the children to use them to say how they feel right now. “Recognizing your emotions and the behaviors they generate is central to my teaching,” she explains. Many little ones are overwhelmed by their emotions. “When they learn to identify in their body where and how they manifest themselves, when they arrive, they are more attentive to them and little by little, let them flare up less”.

Grapes, cotton and bowl of water to develop a form of Mindfulness

In the company of Yupsi, Dominique teaches children to develop concentration on the five senses. For this, it uses “transition objects”. “A child cannot imagine a situation, he must live it sensorially to understand and integrate it”.

In their small hands, she places a raisin. Sitting, the children touch, smell, taste, eyes closed. The bowl of water follows: a half-filled bowl that Ismael and Odysseus pass without dropping a drop.

Then, the exercise becomes more complicated: while walking, she asks them to concentrate. “Be aware of your feet on the ground”.

Then she pulls out a cotton ball. “We are going to pass it on all the parts of our body to bring our attention to our body and feel it”. Passing the cotton around his neck, Ulysses exclaims “It tickles! ". While Ismael, imperturbable and having hardly moved from his cross-legged posture since the start of the session, breathes slowly while doing this exercise.

“Gratitude is one of the paths, along with compassion: two of the Buddhist values ​​that I convey to children. »

Using the bowl, Dominique then works on concentrating on listening. “Listen to the sounds of the bowl and also all the other sounds, in the room and even outside”. For her, this exercise develops both external and internal listening.

With children, she says, “I try to develop attention to others and to oneself, to one's needs, to one's emotions, to one's feelings in one's body and in one's heart. It teaches them how to develop that inner awareness to later accommodate emotions and situations as they present themselves.” His wish ? “I would like these children who have developed these little seeds of wisdom to grow up and see the glass as half full, not empty, and know how to rejoice in the positive things that happen to them. It is above all for this that meditation can serve them. »

Treasures of Gratitude

As she does every week with her kindergarten students, she chooses to end the session with a moment of gratitude. “Meditation is not to calm down, it is to learn to live better. Gratitude is one of the ways, along with compassion, to achieve this. These are two of the Buddhist values ​​that I convey to children”.

At the end of the session, she asks them to symbolically put little treasures of gratitude in a chest: something that made them feel good and happy during the week. Charlie takes the floor: “I put the pleasure of having been able to share this moment with my son. It was very important to me”. Ismael chooses to submit "the joy he felt when giving his French teacher a haiku he had written". And Ulysses, his Bambi against him, lets go in a big yawn of relaxation: “I want to sleep. It did my body good and I don't want to leave."

In 6th grade, Ismael derives from these meditation sessions a lot of inner calm which helps him to manage his stress at tests, to concentrate better and to sleep better when he does some exercises in his bed. “I discovered meditation last year and I knew it could bring me something. Now, it's a bit part of my life, and coming here makes me share beautiful moments", he says proudly, handing his "meditation notebook" to Dominique so that she sticks images or thoughts on it. … to meditate

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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