Meditation with Children: A Walk in the Park
It was November 2011 when Christian meditation was introduced at St Joseph’s Primary School. As reported in the Light of the North, Bishop Hugh Gilbert said Mass at the start of the in-service training day and the staff were very enthusiastic about sharing the gift of meditation with the children. Eighteen months later it was lovely to go back to the school and hear how it had made a really positive difference to life in the classroom.
This seemed a good idea and had the double attraction that we would have the opportunity to share some time of meditation with the children in the beautiful surroundings of the Japanese garden and the sunken garden.
We felt very privileged to share this time with them and, as the pictures show, the children enjoyed it too. To see children deep in meditation is a moving sight. You realise that they are experiencing a profound and beautiful stillness within themselves and they seem to be able to cut themselves off from all the extraneous distractions around them. On this occasion this included a helicopter passing overhead, not to mention the seagulls!
One of the things about meditation is that it is never measured or graded but it does have distinct fruits and benefits. In the case of St Joseph’s Primary School Mrs Henry’s P4 class meditate regularly in class. Patrick says that he feels, “Relaxed and calm,” and can pray better. Una enjoys meditation because she feels, “Confident and happy,” and can speak to God. Siena feels close to God and “Holy” because when meditating with her eyes closed, she feels good about the world. Lucy enjoys meditating and says “You can really feel God is listening to you.”
Mrs Gardner’s P2 class also meditate regularly. Orla (aged 6) said she feels, “Happy like sunlight in the room.” Erik said, “I feel that I am lifted in the sky and meditating to God.” Leo said, “It makes me feel that I can see all my friends and family that have died.” And Szymon said, “It makes me feel that God touches my heart.”
In the eighteen months between our two visits we have had the privilege of introducing Christian meditation to thousands of primary school children throughout the United Kingdom and it’s interesting to see how it satisfies a real hunger for silence in such a busy world. Furthermore in all the schools that we visit we are reminded that children are born contemplative and really love to meditate. We know this because they are sufficiently enthusiastic not only to meditate at school, but also to take the practice into their homes.
Children meditate together as naturally as they breathe in and out. They enjoy the simple discipline with its simple structure and it is a real privilege to share the simplicity with them. Not that meditation is always easy because it isn’t. Like most disciplines it requires daily practice, but if we practice it often enough we hope and pray that it really will become like “a walk in the park.”
-Originally published in WCCM UK Newsletter, Summer 2013