Sit down

June 22nd, 2007

You might have to sit down for this. I’m going to take up the question I’m asked most.

How do I teach my child to meditate?

You might have to sit down because of the question I’m asked least.

How do I meditate?

Everywhere I look I see people – well-meaning, helpful, good-hearted people – trying to get kids to be still, be quiet, slow down and pay attention. What a noble and mostly, lost cause. Still, it’s got to be worth the effort, particularly in light of how far we’ve let things get out of hand. Another day of TV, another night of TV, another video game, another trip to the electronics superstore, another this, another that. Our kids are disordered, addicted, adrift. We turn our backs for what seems like a minute and a whole generation is lost.

So I have to wonder. When people ask how to teach their children to meditate, are they really asking, “How do I get my child to stop bothering me?” If so, then it’s easy. We already know how to do it, and we do it far too much already.

If the question really is, “How do I teach my child to meditate?” then the answer is easier still.

Sit down for this. Just sit down.


  1. I’ve been present in meditation training sessions for children by Tich Naht Hahn and Sogal Rinpoche. The children listened and responded, raptly. The adults loved it, too! Yes, just sit down, do your practice, and your children will be affected.

    Comment by Janet Grace Riehl — June 23, 2007 @ 12:08 am

  2. In total agreement. I feel that the best gift I can give to my child is my own practice.

    Comment by Leah — June 23, 2007 @ 2:42 am

  3. Janet Grace, you are so right. Children (and all of us) are by nature pure awareness, until we cultivate in them the distracted habits of mind that we as adults are afflicted with. Thank you for visiting.

    Comment by Karen — June 23, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  4. The simplicity of this wisdom is a wake up call for me. In the end, we teach our children by how we live our own lives. I need to be reminded of this again and again. Thank-you.

    Comment by bella — June 24, 2007 @ 6:00 pm

  5. Karen, this is something I actually, honestly, have been curious about myself. I do sit in meditation, but I’m new to it, I don’t have much of a community yet, and this is not something I grew up with. Right now I sit when my children are asleep for the most part or when my husband is watching them and I need to recharge. They receive the indirect benefits but they have not, so far, been direct participants or observers.

    I wonder if I should make time each day for them to sit with me or if I should just let them observe what I’m doing more often. Maybe if I sit more it will come to me. 😉

    Comment by Mary P Jones (MPJ) — July 4, 2007 @ 4:31 am

  6. Mary,
    For now, just practice being yourself. Practice being attentive, being still, being quiet, being consistent. They will benefit whether they see what you are doing or not. Of course, if you keep it up they will inevitably see what you are doing, and they will learn from you.

    Bless you.

    Comment by Karen — July 4, 2007 @ 4:53 am

  7. My babe is two and the last thing I want him to do is be still and quiet with all of the exploring and wild curiosity he has.
    I would love to know how to better my own meditation, but my son will have to make the choice to sit thoughtfully when he is older, if he chooses. When I chose to have a baby, I didn’t set my heart on one that would be convenient for me and others, which is my projection of what some parents want their kids to be.
    I wonder what those who ask you for help really want? To tune out their children’s need for play, connection and occasional chaos? Are they so undernourished themselves that they are not present to their kids needs?
    My fantasy is that kids who never settle down are bored to tears and wish their parents would notice them and help them with creative outlets for their abundance of energy.
    Hmmm. What say you, MZ?

    Comment by pixie — July 18, 2007 @ 3:07 am

  8. Pixie,
    I won’t second-guess or judge, but like you, I think as parents we’re prone to a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is we are to give to our children.
    We are to give our attention, and by our attention, love. Attention, as we know, is in such short supply.

    Welcome to the Road!

    Comment by Karen — July 18, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

  9. Gee, am I late following up here- but thank you for your reply. I know it to be true in my family-even as I try mightily to scramble to find what it is my sweet needs most from me when I see and hear that I have missed something, as you say, fundamental. Such a simple word that I am learning about in many different ways…”attention.”
    I wish I weren’t prone to misunderstanding him, but fighting the idea is, perhaps, for my ego. Thank you for sharing your journey and inspiring.

    Comment by pixie — September 2, 2007 @ 3:59 am

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