This is part 2 of a two-part blog series about making meditation easy and manageable for both mums and kids.
In this series, I’m talking to Alysse Di Natale, founder of Young Yoga and the Meditate with Friends app. Alysse is passionate about supporting the wellbeing of young people by helping them find moments of calm and stillness in their days. With her passion for mindfulness and movement and her own experience as a mother, she learned to adapt her self-care approach to fit with motherhood, which, as you would know, can sometimes be very challenging!
You’ll love this blog series if you have been:
- Wanting to try meditation but have felt that it was too hard, time-consuming, spiritual or that you just weren’t any good at emptying your mind.
- Wondering how to introduce your kids to meditation.
You’ll find the beginning of our conversation in Part 1. I hope this helps you form your own meditation practice that is easy, comfortable and that can be added into your life when you need it.
Alysse, can you please give us some examples of how we can fit meditation into our daily lives as mothers?
As a mother, meditation might look like the following:
- 3 deep breaths before getting out of bed, alone or with a bed full of children.
- A body scan: consciously noticing how your body feels from your head to your toes (imagining them relaxing and releasing can be a nice visual). This can be done anywhere, anytime that works for you.
- Listening to a guided audio meditation from different platforms: meditation apps, Spotify, Youtube etc.
Note: the above can take a few attempts to find the voice/meditation coach that you enjoy listening to or even a meditation that you can relate to. There are sleep meditations, body scans, yoga nidras ( a deeper style of relaxation ), loving kindness meditations (usually gratitude themed), inspiring meditations, breathing relaxations, moving meditations (yoga or similar), affirmation meditations for positive mindset, morning and uplifting meditations to get the day started. The list goes on.
- Sipping on a tea slowly and taking the sensory experience in.
- Meditating in the car, in your child’s bed, beside their cot, or sitting on the lounge whilst feeding your child a bottle or breast.
- A walking meditation.
- Meditation before bed at night or before a nap.
- Meditation during lunch if you get to have that meal quietly alone.
- Writing an appreciation (gratitude) list.
- Breathing with focus or intention whilst vacuuming.
- Listening to calming music, acoustic or instrumental, nature sounds/rainfall.
- Meditation in the shower (if you get one that day).
The intention is to find a way that works for you to press pause on your day, press pause on your endless to-do list, to offer a moment of self-care, and put yourself first even just for a few breathes if that is all that is possible.
The more frequently that you can add one or more of the above into your week, there becomes a subtle shift and the brain starts to re-wire and develop a habit of awareness. Just like a muscle in the body, the mind develops a newfound strength for challenging circumstances. So instead of getting caught up in feelings of anxiety and following the storyline of worry or overwhelm, we develop this incredible skill to pause, notice, and reduce the intensity of the emotions and then choose if we want to stay anxious or direct our focus to our breathing or anything else that offers a better feeling at that moment.
What is a simple and achievable way to start meditating?
A simple and achievable way to start meditating could be to put a piece of paper or whiteboard on your fridge and write 3 words or sentences that remind you to be present.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Take a look outside and notice the weather.
- Give yourself a gentle hand massage with some moisturiser and think of something you are grateful for.
You’ve already referred to the benefits of meditation for mothers. How do we invite our children into a meditation practice so it feels enjoyable and becomes something they want to do rather than have to do?
Role modeling is how I introduced my son and even all the children in my kids’ yoga classes to meditation. Lying down and getting involved with them. Encouraging my son to watch his belly go up and down when he breathes was a great way to build a relationship with breath awareness. Children learn new skills quickly, especially when we connect and do it with them. You can listen to guided audio meditations for children on the platforms I mentioned earlier. Listening to meditation with your children is a great way to enjoy it together if you have no time to meditate without your children. They love sharing that time with you, usually because they feel your complete presence and attention. They also know when we are calmer and less stressed. Their behaviour often reflects this and your children will be calmer, more focused, and able to manage their emotions better.
Like many adults, once children are familiar with meditating and how it makes them feel they will be able to enjoy it independently. All they may need is a reminder to take a few deep breaths or listen to a guided audio meditation to encourage the routine until they are old enough to sit quietly from time to time and enjoy rest.
Here are my tips to introduce meditation to children and encourage them to do it:
- Start with 1 or 2 minutes.
- Offer it to your child rather than insist.
- Play it in the background before bedtime.
- Make it fun and join in with them, even make a cubby house or get special blankets and pillows. You can also add essential oils like lavender or vanilla in a diffuser or a drop-on blanket. You can add eye pillows or weighted blankets.
- Dim the lights.
- After physical movement, outdoor play, dance or exercise is a great time to offer meditation to children.
- Do not introduce meditation as a behaviour management tool, over time once your child has a positive relationship with meditation you can offer it when you observe their need for emotional support.
Can you tell us more about what’s available on the Meditate with Friends app and how to start using it with our children?
Meditate with Friends is an app with guided meditations FOR children BY children. All our meditations have been purposefully produced, written by myself, and recorded by a group of children we refer to as our Young Meditators. The unique delivery of children guiding other children to a state of calm and focus has been found to be far more effective “because kids know kids best” said 6 year old Miss S.
Our vision is to inspire our growing number of Young Meditators to discover their inner leader and experience joy in helping the wellbeing of thousands of other children. Children listen and feel connected to other children, while at the same time developing the skill of meditating from a young age. Meditation teaches children to maintain their inner child and natural mindful abilities. We have meditations to help children wind down after a busy day, to prepare for bed, meditations to start the day, meditations to be played in the car on the way to school, meditations to help worried children, anxious children, to help children go back to sleep after a nightmare. We have an Aboriginal meditation to teach children culture and story. These are all voiced by our Young Meditator team of children.
You can download Meditate with Friends FREE from Apple and Google Play stores. Try it for free and subscribe for our full version at our special rate of $29.95 (limited time only).
About Alysse Di Natale
Alysse Di Natale was destined to spend her career caring, educating and more specifically, supporting the wellbeing of young people locally and in communities far and wide.
For over 15 years her attentive nature has provided Alysse with an insight into the practical needs of children. More recently, the last 4 years of Young Yoga revealed the increasing need and desire children have for quiet time and moments of stillness in their surprisingly demanding day.
The Meditate with Friends app was designed to give voice to the child wishing to speak and be heard. The first of it’s kind, it has created a community of children dedicated to each other’s wellbeing through meditation.
“Meditation by children for children” – this is her dream come true.