Local parent, Tara Demyan is a fan of the Meditation for Kids and Family class at Atisha Kadampa Meditation Center. To learn more about what it means to meditate together as a family, read Tara’s recent interview with Angela Stewart, Education Program Coordinator of the Atisha Kadampa Meditation Center.
What is a “family” meditation class?
Angela: All parents want their children to be happy, and every child wants a happy family. “Meditation for Kids and Families” is an opportunity for families to come together, have fun, and learn special ways of thinking and being that help to create a meaningful life and a happy family.
The family class offers a simple introduction to Buddha’s teachings, emphasizing loving- kindness, respect for others, and keeping a happy heart and positive attitude.
The family meditation class helps kids learn together how to develop harmony, confidence and methods to calm their minds and be happy. Each class includes a short discussion about everyday experiences relevant to children, guided meditation, and fun activities that foster kindness, cooperation, patience and giving.
How can meditation benefit my child?
Angela: Children want to live in a peaceful world. Such a world starts with a happy family and harmonious relationships with others. The meditation for kids and families class offers children an opportunity to do engage in fun, meaningful activities with their families while connecting with others who are interested in learning how to create a peaceful world.
Meditation is a method to make our mind peaceful, calm, strong and stable. Children who are able to remain calm when faced with difficulty are more resilient to the problems of daily life. They are able to develop and maintain better relationships with others and experience fewer problems and difficulties.
Children in our modern world face many challenges. We live in a world where children are exposed to violence and other tragedies. Many children are dealing with interpersonal conflict, stress, and worry. Over 2000 years ago, Buddha gave instructions to solve human problems. Although very ancient, this advice is still relevant for our modern world and can benefit those of all ages.
How old does my child need to be to participate in the class?
Angela: The class is recommended for children 5 — 12 years of age; however, these are only guidelines. Generally, the class is best for children who can remain seated in a small group for 15-20 minutes, follow instructions, and participate in group activities.
Â I’m not sure my child can sit still, let alone meditate. Can children really meditate?
Angela: Many people think children can’t meditate because they have difficulty sitting still. This simply is not true! Although sitting still is helpful during meditation practice, it is not required; we can meditate during all of our daily activities simply by holding a positive state of mind, such as love or compassion. Since all children can learn positive ways of thinking, even about challenging situations, they can definitely learn to meditate, even if they have difficulty sitting still. Like any skill, meditation takes practice. In these classes, children will learn short, guided meditations. As children practice and gain experience, they are able to sit quietly for longer periods of time.
Â What is the structure of the class?
Angela: Classes include teaching and discussion about issues relevant to children and emphasize Buddhist principles for how to become more patient, loving, and kind towards others. Classes also include a brief prayer (e.g., for all beings to be happy and free from problems), short guided meditations appropriate for children, and fun activities. Instruction is provided primarily through experiential learning, such as with the use of games, stories, crafts, puppetry, and acting.
What do parents do during the class?
Angela: Parents are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the family meditation class. By learning to meditate themselves, parents are better able to help their children practice what they have learned at home, in school and during their daily activities.
Does my child need special clothing or equipment?
Angela: All of these classes are open to anyone; it is not necessary to pre-register; and you are welcome to join at any time. Children don’t need to bring or wear anything special to the classes, and both chairs and cushions are available for sitting.
What is Atisha Kadampa Buddhist Center?
Angela: Atisha Kadampa Buddhist Center is an oasis of peace and inspiration in the heart of the East Side that offers a relaxed, welcoming setting in which to explore ways to develop wisdom and cultivate peaceful states of mind. Classes are designed to provide practical advice for responding to life’s challenges. Since Buddhist teachings and practices can be understood and applied by everyone, regardless of experience or religious background, anyone can find practical benefit at our classes, workshops, and events.
Atisha Kadampa Buddist Center is part of Serlingpa Meditation Center
339 Ives Street Providence, RI 02906