I wrote Meditating With Children in 1974 out of a recognition of the profound need among children to discover within themselves a deeper meaning to life. While there were many programs available to adults who were seeking to integrate their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual natures–through groups, teachers, books, churches, schools, courses of study, etc.– there wasn’t–and still isn’t much that addresses this same need in children. Back in 1974, I saw children going through difficult upheavals as their parents’ lives rapidly changed. These children were asking for help in many subtle and not so subtle ways. Increasingly, adults were going into therapy, either to recover from stressful childhood experiences or to unlearn poor attitudes and behaviors developed from childhood. But there wasn’t much help for their children. I knew there had to be another way.
I had first learned how to meditate in 1970 and that opened a whole new world of discovery and deeper understanding of myself and others. Meditation gave me more ability to manage my attitudes and reactions to life and more awareness of my mental, emotional and physical energies. In college, I’d studied psychology and attitude change theory, but there were few techniques that brought the theories I learned into practice. Meditation, on the other hand, opened my heart and my mind to what inner peace and wisdom really could be. I so wished someone had taught me how to meditate as a child. It didn’t make sense to me that children have to spend the first twenty years of their lives learning ineffective ways to deal with life and then have to spend the next twenty years trying to unlearn them if they ever do. It became my passion and my goal to find a fun, exciting way to bring the heart of the meditation experience to children.
Since the ’70s, social change has accelerated at a tremendous rate. As a result, many parents, teachers and children struggle to find inner peace or a sense of security. Family, social and educational institutions have become unstable and precarious. Children today are more confused about values, have few modern heroes for role models and little certainty about their future. They turn on TV and see a steady stream of sex, drugs, violence and stress. The threat of youth gangs is rampant everywhere. Where is there hope for inner peace?
Trend analysis is showing that in the ’90s more individuals and businesses are learning meditation techniques to reduce stress, improve health and find more peace. Meditation is no longer feared as religious but is considered a key to surviving the ’90s and increasing the quality of life. But what about the children? They also need to learn how to find inner peace and security within their own hearts that is not dependent on people, places or situations. Meditating With Children was designed to help them do that. Its purpose is to help adults teach children how to manage their energies to find inner peace, become heart-centered and discover the richness that lies within them. It is written as a workbook, to be used with children ages five through adolescence. Through fun meditations, activities and a variety of forms of creative self-expression, children begin to tap into their own inner resources. However, these techniques can be enjoyed by all of us “children” at any age. Since 1975, thousands of parents and teachers have told me how much they personally benefit from the meditations in the book. “If children can do it, so can I,” is a common statement of` many adults who bought the book just for themselves.
In days of old, prophets and seers taught in parables to convey depth of meaning to those who could understand their message no other way. The principles in this book are taught experientially through both objective, outer forms, and subjective, inner forms, so that the child experiences unity between the inner world of consciousness and the outer world of appearances and activity. In this way, a child can embark upon the integration of his or her total Self. For example, we compare the way a walkie-talkie can be tuned to receive and transmit messages with the way our brains and hearts can be tuned to receive and transmit thought waves or feelings to each other. And, we compare the way a battery in an automobile works with the way our body battery works. By bringing energy consciously into the body through tensing muscles, and consciously releasing energy from the body by relaxing muscles, we observe the battery effect of charge and discharge that is going on continuously beyond conscious awareness. There are so many correspondences to be found between the world outside of our bodies and the world inside our bodies, that we study these facts of life and allow their truths to be revealed to us. Hidden in these experiences are keys to some of the mysteries of life and, most importantly, keys to better understanding the nature of our own Self.
How to get started
While not a prerequisite, it is suggested that the leader of the group read through the entire book before leading the children through the meditations and exercises. The first part of this book provides the theoretical base from which the practical sessions presented in the second part were developed. Try to conduct sessions with small groups of children in similar age ranges. However, whether the size of your group is 1 child or 35, there are meditations and activities in this workbook that all can enjoy. They are structured so as to be adaptable to differing classroom needs and differing needs of families and teachers. Last but not least, it is suggested that parents and teachers participate in the meditations and energy activities found in the book with the children.
Over the years of using this workbook in public school classrooms, starting a children’s school based on its principles, and continuing my own personal unfoldment, I’ve discovered new ways to make the meditations and exercises even more effective. In this new edition, all the meditations focus the children in their hearts–that place inside where we experience peace, fun, love and joy. The power of the heart enables children to release negative emotions more quickly, listen deeply to their own heart truth and appreciate and care more for themselves and others.
In my current position as Executive Director of the Institute of HeartMath® (IHM), a nonprofit research, education and training organization in Boulder Creek, California, I have been working with scientists, researchers, psychologists and educators in understanding the role of the head and the heart in the human system. Under the direction of IHIVI founder and president Doc Lew Childre, what we have discovered is that when the head (brain/mind) and heart (intuitive feelings) are out of phase, stress results, learning is inhibited, understanding blocked. Research at IHM laboratories shows that the heart plays a central role in the effective functioning of the brain, mind, emotions and immune system. Negative emotions tax the physical heart and the immune system, while positive heart-centered emotions, such as love, care, compassion and appreciation, create the opposite effect, increasing the efficiency of the physical heart, brain and immune system. This in turn accelerates learning. Doc Lew Childre’s HeartMath system of personal, family and organizational empowerment teaches people of all ages how to use their heart smarts to unlock their inner potential for intuitive insight and creative problem-solving. Teaching Children to Love seminars for parents and educators and Heart Smarts seminars for teenagers provide children with reliable common-sense tools they need to listen to their hearts, activate intuition, build security within themselves and make responsible decisions. This truly is a next step for society.
The problems that plague the globe today are affecting people, and it is people who need new levels of care, cooperation and understanding. Meditating With Children is a start. It teaches children how to calm the mind and emotions and focus in the heart center where their innate core values of love, care and appreciation of life can be felt. The deeper that teachers, parents, and children, together, learn to find their real hearts and communicate from there, the more they increase their appreciation and understanding of each other. The result is a happier, more caring and productive learning environment.
Deborah Rozman helped Doc Childre start the non-profit Institute of HeartMath in 1991 and as Executive Director she was involved in overseeing the exciting research on the heart and creating the HeartMath training programs. Before HeartMath, Deborah was an entrepreneur, psychologist, business executive and founder of one of the first private children’s school in holistic education in Northern California. She studied at the University of Chicago and University of California at Santa Cruz, and has a master’s degree in child psychology and a doctorate in the psychology of consciousness. Since 1975 she has authored or co-authored over a dozen books, including HeartMath’s Transforming Series books (New Harbinger Publications) with Doc Childre: Transforming Anger, Transforming Stress, Transforming Anxiety and Transforming Depression, and Stopping Emotional Eating. She does keynote addresses for executives, scientists and conferences throughout the world, and is a key media spokesperson on the role of the heart in performance, wellness and personal growth. This book is available through Integral Yoga Distribution at: 800-262-1008, or http://www.iydbooks.com.
(by Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., from the February, 2014 IYTA Newsletter)