Teaching Meditation In The Classroom

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Using these meditations with children is not the same as reading stories to them. Reading is passive. Children do understand and become involved in what you are reading, but in guided meditation they become actively involved.

Reading a story and reading a meditation are different functions. Reading stories to children is a must because it helps the child to learn and spell, but meditation enables the mind to become free, to explore.

Each meditation has its own distinctive theme and gives children the opportunity to experience it. They feel the love of the Buddha; radiate loving-kindness; climb mountains; collect seashells; become a bird; feel the touch of the wind on their face; and go to the moon.

There are so many things they can do, and all these things must bring their imagination to the fore. Most importantly, they learn to appreciate the Dharma more. In other words, they participate in the meditation and learn to be in touch with the source of love, strength and wisdom inside themselves.

Lotus Meditation

(Buddhist value: Like a lotus flower that grows out of the mud and blossoms above the muddy water surface, we can rise above our defilements and sufferings of life)

Imagine that you are a lotus seed buried beneath a muddy lotus pond. There is mud all around you, and you can feel them clearly. Above you, above this muddy pool of dirt, mud and filth, are sunshine and air. You are not disheartened as you begin your journey towards the surface.

With a determined heart, you begin to wiggle in the earth. You grow roots deep, deep into the mud. Your little stem grows up slowly. Suddenly, "pop" you are out of the mud! Your stem grows higher and higher, taller and taller. You rise up slowly, fighting against the muddy water. All of a sudden, you are out of the muddy pond! You reach up towards the warm sun, shining down on you.

Your lotus bud begins to grow on top of your stem. It expands and grows larger and larger, finally bursting into full bloom. A white lotus flower. You stand beautifully above the muddy water, not dirtied by the mud from which you grow. You are white, fragrant and beautiful.
Everyone who saw you marvelled at your beauty! Your determination to grow out of the muddy pond reminds them of the Buddha and his journey towards Enlightenment. The Buddha, like a lotus, is determined to grow out of the muddy surroundings, that is the defilements and sufferings of life. He has done all that is to be done and he is showing us that we can all do it too. We may have defilements but we all have the potential of growing out of our defilements and achieving wisdom, like the Buddha.

You are a beautiful white lotus flower, and your role is to remind people to rise above their defilements and sufferings, just as you are arising above the muddy water and not dirtied by the mud from which you grow. 



Water Meditation

(Buddhist value: Water symbolises purity, clarity and calmness, and reminds us to cleanse our minds and attain the state of purity)

Imagine that you are now pure clean water. Someone comes along and gently puts you into a small bowl. The person then offers you to the Buddha.
You rest happily in the bowl knowing that you have an important role to play. You symbolise purity, clarity and calmness. You remind people to practise the Buddha's teachings, which is constantly cleansing their minds.

Water is used to clean away dirt. When everyone sees you, they are happy and joyful. This is because they are reminded that they can wash away the filth of their minds. They should wash away selfish and unkind thoughts and be clean and pure like you.
The Buddha is someone free from defilements like desire, ill-will and ignorance. We should all be like the Buddha, who does not have any dirt or defilements but only purity in his mind.

Waterfall Relaxation Meditation
(The children learn to relax before meditation)

A beautiful waterfall of white light is flowing down on you. It flows down on your head, helping your head to relax. You feel your head relaxing. It moves down over your neck and shoulders. Your neck and shoulders are relaxing. Now it flows down over your arms. You feel your arms relaxing. It flows down your back. Your back is letting go and relaxing. It flows over your chest and stomach, helping your chest and stomach relax. You feel your chest and stomach relax. It moves down over your legs and feet. You feel your legs and feet letting go and relaxing. The beautiful waterfall of white light is flowing over your whole body. You are very peaceful and relaxed.

Joy Meditation

(Buddhist value: The children learn to spread joy around them)

Imagine a feeling of joy. You feel an opening in the top of your head. You feel joy floating in through the opening in the top of your head.

It fills up your head and neck. It fills your shoulders and arms. The joy floats down into your chest and your heart. Your heart is so full of joy. The joy floats on into your stomach and on into your back. It floats into your legs and feet. Every part of your body is full of joy.

You are so full of joy, it begins to spread out beyond your body. It spreads out to everyone in our classroom. It reaches beyond the classroom farther and farther until it spreads over the whole country. It spreads out to the whole earth, and continues to spread out even further into the universe-beyond the planets, beyond the stars, farther and farther. The whole universe is filled with your joy.




Light Meditation

(Buddhist value: The children learn about the importance of offering lights to the Buddha and its significance in the Buddhist context)

Imagine that you are a lotus candle. Someone walks toward you and lights your wick. You are now giving out a small glow of orange light. Slowly, your whole body becomes an orange colour. Feel yourself giving out warm orange light. Someone lifts you up and places you on the shrine table.

Your warm orange light is like the brightness of wisdom. You are now shining brightly, as bright as you can be, to drive away the darkness of ignorance. Your light symbolizes the Buddha's teachings. His teachings help and guide us when we are in darkness. When we behave badly and get angry, it is as if we are in darkness. We need the light of the Buddha's teachings to help us.

Your light helps to remind people not to remain in darkness but to brighten themselves with the Buddha's teachings.

You are the bright orange light. Feel yourself expanding, your light going out further and further, until it shines through the whole temple, then further until it shines through the whole country, and still further until it covers the whole world. You are as big as the whole world and your light breaks through all the darkness and shines out in every direction. Your light of wisdom is touching all of space. Continue giving out orange light in every direction. 





REFERENCES:
  • Garth, Maureen. "Moonbeam — a Book of Meditations for Children"
  • Herzog, Stephanie. "Joy in the Classroom." 
    University of the Trees Press. 1982
  • Rozman, Deborah. "Meditating with Children — the Art of Concentrating and Centering" 
    Planetary Publications. 1994
  • Hudson, John. "Meditation — A Practical Guide to Achieving Harmony."
    Southwater. 1996
  • George, Mike. "Discover Inner Peace — The illustrated Guide to Personal Enlightenment". 
  • Duncan Baird Publishers Ltd. 1999


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