Here are two more skills that might encourage children we influence to adopt a meditation practice.

  1. Children will be more likely to grow up into adults who choose to practice silent prayer if they have been encouraged to de-stimulate their lives.

When our lives are filled with constant noise, busyness, activity, and stimulation, we are unlikely to choose the gentle art of meditation as a life practice. The faster we have been running, the harder it is to stop. Stillness is counter-intuitive in the frenetic cluttered culture we inhabit.

Especially in our hyper-active cyber age, it is difficult to find a moment of stillness. There are always opportunities to distract oneself with some tantalizing on-line entertainment. It is possible to fill every moment with some form of distraction. We have the power to banish quietness from every corner of our life.

Children need to be helped to pause during their day, to be still, and quiet. They need to experience the gift of gentleness and to find freedom from over-powering external stimulation. They need to spend hours on the beach looking under stones and gazing into tidal pools. They need to have opportunities to walk in the woods or play quietly at home with simple toys. They need to read books on paper where they can feel the pages as they turn them. They need to enter into long wandering conversation that requires space between the words and an ability to listen.

Like all human beings, children need space. They need space to breathe, space to explore, to open and to experience an unhurried rhythm of life. They need space to connect with the deeper truth of their own lives and to find the authentic voice that flows from this inner place of depth.

These are practices that will help prepare a child for the periods of intentional de-stimulation that are at the heart of all meditation practice.

  1. Finally, children who are going to grow up to value silent prayer need to learn that this prayer is a means by which they will grow in their ability to find their true selves and to experience their relationship with God.

Centering Prayer is not a self-help program calculated to create a smooth and “successful” life. But it does open the practitioner to the more subtle vibrations of life and tune the ear to the hints of the Divine that permeate all of life.

Children need to be taught that God is the centre of their lives. They need to start learning early that, all the things they own, all the experiences they have on the surface of life, how they look, and how they perform in the world, are not the centre of who they are. These surface realities are not an adequate foundation for a strong and lasting sense of identity. Children need to see that their care-givers genuinely believe that it is not what we do that is of primary importance, but who we are.

Children learn from the environment in which they are raised. Care-givers who want the children in their care to grow up to seek a practice of silent prayer need to pay attention to the environment they are creating. We need to develop a world for children that is open, gracious, loving, kind, compassionate, and gentle. Then they will start to seek for themselves the Source of these qualities and develop the tools that have the ability to open them more deeply to this Source.

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