girl praying

Christian meditation is a practise that I have begun as an adult. After several weeks, I began to realise that, although the practise is simple, the daily discipline of sitting in stillness and simply saying my prayer word, not allowing myself to be distracted by the ideas and lists of things I had to do, was not easy for me. I began to wonder if it would have been easier if I had learnt to meditate when I was young.

Then I attended a seminar about teaching students to meditate. Hearing Ernie Christie and Dr Cathy Day talk about their experience of introducing Christian meditation into the Catholic schools in the Townsville Diocese convinced me that my wondering was not just wishful thinking. They have been able to demonstrate that children from the ages of 5 to 18 have benefited from learning to meditate and have embraced it as a daily practise.

Christian meditation gives children the opportunity to enter into the presence and love of God.

Ministry to children often focuses on telling children about God. But the faith development of children requires them to experience relationship with God, within the context of Christian community. Christian meditation gives children the opportunity to enter into the presence and love of God. As a regular daily practise, it is a means of developing a personal and intimate relationship with God. Meditating with their children is a very simple way for parents to nurture faith; it requires nothing except the willingness to provide a daily time of quietness.

Teaching children to meditate

Meditation is very simple and children will learn very fast. Children learn by example, so please meditate with them. You just have to tell them: "Sit down. Sit still and upright. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Breathe calmly and regularly. Silently, interiorly begin to say a single word. (The World Community for Christian Meditation recommends the prayer-phrase MA-RA-NA-THA). Recite it as four syllables of equal length. Listen to it as you say it gently but continuously. Do not think or imagine anything - spiritual or otherwise. If thoughts and images come, these are distractions at the time of meditation, so keep returning to simply saying the word."

Meditate each morning and evening with your child when you wake up and before you go to bed. The World Community for Christian Meditation suggests that children start meditating for 5 minutes, gradually adding a minute whenever they seem ready for more silence until they are meditating 1 minute for each year of the child's age.

For more information about meditating with children go to Christian Meditation for Children and Young People.