Children as young as five can learn to meditate silently for a minute or two at a time. It may help them to have a picture or a candle to look at, or to close their eyes as they use a short mantra such as “Come Lord Jesus” or “I love you Jesus.”
This is great training for a life of grace and has all sorts of other benefits for them too in terms of aiding greater concentration, relaxation and self-mastery. Some primary schools are already holding regular meditation sessions for children with great success, gradually increasing the length of time with each grade.
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Meditation and contemplative prayer has been central part of Christian prayer for centuries. It is also a wonderful tradition to incorporate into your family’s prayer life with these simple tips.
- Set a regular time. Find a suitable time to sit and gather in the quiet. It might be just before bedtime, after dinner or once a week on Sunday afternoon. Having a routine makes it much easier to forge and maintain a habit, especially for younger children.
- Time it. Contemplative prayer can be difficult, especially for young children. So don’t plan a half-hour silent stretch on your first attempt! Keep it relatively short, a maximum of two minutes for young children and beginners. Gradually increase it over time.
- Incorporate it! Warm your kids up to the idea by introducing a minute silence to think about a passage, or image or examine their conscience in your usual family prayer time.
- A focus. Having some kind aid to focus your concentration can be very helpful. It could be some quiet instrumental music, an image or icon, a candle. Try out a few different things and see what is most effective.
- Set prayers. Contemplative prayers are not limited to silent meditation. There are many beautiful set prayers that are especially for aiding and focusing contemplation. Some examples of these prayers include the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Ignatian Spiritual excises. The repetitive prayers require no brain-strain or great focus, but they allow the mind to focus on the God or a particular story, image or scripture passage you are meditating on.
- Pray for it! Don’t hesitate to ask for God’s help in your family meditation. He only wants to get closer to us so he will go out of his way to bestow the graces to go deeper if we ask for it and are sincerely open to it.
This article featured in the May 2012 edition of the CathFamily e-Magazine. For more, check out: