With the present state of the world, and all its sadness and violence presented to us by the media, it is our responsibility now, to teach our children peace. Peace comes from love and the only thing we have to use against the worlds devastation. Practicing Metta with children teaches respect, understanding, kindness, compassion, harmlessness (ahimsa) and sympathy. Metta imparts in children a sense of giving and the inner strength to help others in times that may seem helpless.
Derived from the ancient Pali scriptures, Metta Meditation is a philosophy and practise of universal loving and kindness. It is described in Buddhism to mean an absence of hatred and hostility, not just to people of goodwill, but to every living being. It is traditionally taught in meditation where one breathes out and chants heart felt wishes to them self, then to family, friends, teachers, strangers and finally enemies until this positive message has been sent out to the entire universe. On the inhalation the practice is to breathe in all the pain and suffering of others. To imagine yourself in other’s shoes.
Can you imagine if all children around the world practised this one powerful technique and how differently they would treat themselves, their families and their neighbours. The world would be buzzing with positive love and goodness!
Metta can be sent out to people, pets, trees, rocks, animals. All things that need love and heartfelt thoughts.
Here are 4 ways you can teach Metta to children.
- Provide a safe, quiet space, free from distraction. Outside in nature, a breathing room or a yoga mat and sit together in a comfortable seated position.
- Sit opposite each other and hold hands.
- Close your eyes and take three deep breathes together saying “Metta” on each exhalation. To set the intentions of your meditation.
- Now encourage your little one to imagine their heart and the face in their heart, smiling and happy is a reflection of themselves.
- Say together these four chants:
“May you be happy,”
“May you be Healthy,”
“May you be safe,”
“May you be peaceful and at ease.”
- On your next round, ask your child to imagine their family in their heart, with all their smiling faces and happiness.
- Repeat the chants again, sending them to your family.
- Repeat this action until you are imagining the whole world and universe in your heart, healthy and peaceful, whilst you chant the wishes and sending love.
Metta Art Activity
- After the meditation have a discussion with your children about what they visualised in their heart. Ask them how they felt after and if they were to draw or paint it, what would it look like.
- Provide a yoga journal or art paper along with art supplies such as pencil, oil pastels, water colours.
- Encourage artistic flow, including visualisations of people, animals, faces, smiles, symbols to be created and expressed onto the paper.
- This art will be a reminder for your next Metta practice of how good it felt to send out loving kindness and feel compassion.
Flowing River Meditation
- Find a peaceful place down by a river or stream.
- Have a basket of treasures collected from nature that float, or pre-made paper lanterns.
- Connect with your breath to bring yourselves into the present moment.
- Inhale “Metta”, exhale “Metta” 3x
- Inhale whilst thinking about yourself and your open heart and as you breathe out float a leaf or lantern and watch it go with the flow of the river saying the four chants from the Meta Meditation.
- Next Inhale whilst visualising your loved ones, exhale release another treasure or lantern down the stream chanting.
- Continue on with the ritual until you have inhaled the entire universes pain and exhaled all the love in your heart and sent it down the stream.
- Chants can be said silently or aloud, however you feel comfortable.
- Using scraps of plain cotton material cut into flag shapes or squares and fabric markers or fabric paint, create your Metta flags by painting the four chants and pictures of friends, families, pets, children from around the world and the earth herself.
- Hang the flags in the space you practice Metta Meditation as a reminder of the chants for your next meditation practice.
“Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu” – May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
In loving Kindness