How can meditation help children better cope with confinement?
In this very special time, children no longer go to school and no longer have extracurricular activities. Their bearings are upset. It is important to invite them to come back to the moment, in particular through meditations which allow them to be present to their bodies and their emotions, and to show them how to taste the richness of the little things of everyday life. The fact of meeting 24 hours a day with one's brothers and sisters or one's parents can also generate a lot of tension, strong emotions such as anger or fear... Practicing meditation makes it possible to tame them, that is to say to observe them to get to know them better. Finally, staying at home can be experienced as a moment of social isolation. It is therefore an opportunity to try to connect with others in a different way, by practicing meditations that open the heart.
What exercise can they practice to better feel their body and their emotions?
I regularly offer a walking meditation exercise. The objective is to put the attention and realize that it is not focused naturally, but that it is attracted by sounds, thoughts.
Meditation is done standing, feet firmly anchored in the ground, on this land that carries us with generosity. I suggest the children take a small bowl in which I put 1 to 2 centimeters of water and, after giving the starting signal with bells, I invite them to walk through the space, focusing all their attention on the water, so that it remains, if possible, as calm as the surface of a lake. Then I invite them to raise their heels slightly, take off their feet and move them slowly one after the other, while keeping their eyes firmly on the surface of the water. At some point, if the water in the bowl gets a little too agitated, I invite them to slow down and ask them if they have noticed that they are thinking of something else, if their attention has been attracted, for example, by the light coming through the window or the sound of a passing car. I always make it clear that it doesn't matter, that's how the mind works. I then invite them to rest their attention on the bowl and continue their walk.
“The fact of meeting 24 hours a day with your brothers and sisters or your parents can also generate a lot of tension, strong emotions such as anger or fear… Practicing meditation allows you to tame them. »
The meditation thus lasts approximately five minutes and ends with the ringing of the bells. We then have a time for discussion. After congratulating the children for being very attentive, I ask them if they would like to share their feelings, if they noticed that their attention was gone at certain times. I then explain to them that noticing the natural movement of the attention which has left and bringing it back to an object is what is called meditation.
To develop the opening of the heart, you propose a seated meditation.
This exercise, which also lasts about five minutes, can be practiced sitting or lying in bed, in the evening, before sleeping. With children, I do it more while sitting on a chair or cushion. I ask them to keep their backs as straight as possible, their shoulders relaxed and their hands resting on their thighs, without unnecessary tension. To help them, I use the image of a large mountain whose head touches the clouds, and which symbolically raises its eyes to the earth. Like her, I invite them to gaze in front of them. Then, I ask the children to put their open hands on their heart and imagine that it contains all the people they miss during confinement: friends they haven't seen for a long time, their grandparents, cousins... I then invite them to close their hands on each other and gently place them on their heart, to observe the pulsations of the heart which they can feel like beats of love and tenderness which spread like rays of sunshine towards the people they love. Then I suggest that they formulate the sentence in their minds: “I wish you much happiness” or even “I wish you good health”. These words formulated, they are invited to feel the great well-being that gives them the fact of feeling connected to others.
You also want to share the practice of gratitude to help families in their daily lives. Can you specify it?
It is reassuring for children to maintain daily rituals during this period. The practice of gratitude, which can be done as a family, is one. We all tend to focus on what has been negative in our day. Here, the training consists of looking, at the end of the day, at what has done us good. Each member of the family first shares a moment that brought them happiness. Then, in a second step, we note that this happiness did not happen by itself, but thanks to the act or the intention of someone else. It can be the mother who offered a chocolate snack, a friend who sent a message, the teacher who gave news by email... Through this exercise, which allows children to express their gratitude, confinement can bring good for the whole family.