Pebble Meditation: A Practice to Share with the Kiddos

 

pebble meditation

If every child in  the world would be taught meditation, we would eliminate violence from the world within one generation. —The Dalai Lama

Parents often ask me if I know of any meditations geared toward children. Because my own are still a bit young for formal practice—although that door is beginning to open up for my daughter—I’ve not spent much time exploring meditation practices for children.

Recently, however, I learned about a practice called Pebble Meditation. Originated by the Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, this meditation is appropriate for adults or children, but is commonly taught to children as an introduction to meditation.

The practice:

For this practice you will need four pebbles (a pouch to store the pebbles in may be helpful, but not necessary).

Ideally, you should locate a quiet, calm place that is conducive to meditation for you and your child(ren).

While in a comfortable, seated position on the floor, the practitioner should place the four pebbles on the floor on the left hand side of the body.

Begin by taking three slow, deep inhales and exhales, following the sensation of the breath in the body.

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The practitioner picks up the first stone with the left hand and transfers it to the right hand.

Holding the pebble in the right hand, the practitioner says while inhaling, “Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.” On the exhale the practitioner says, “Breathing out, I am fresh.”

Over the next three cycles of inhales and exhales, the practitioner silently repeats, “flower” on the inhale and “fresh” on the exhale.

The practitioner then lays the pebble down on the right side of their body.

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The practitioner then picks up the second stone with the left hand and transfers it to the right hand.

Holding the pebble in the right hand, the practitioner says while inhaling, “Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.” On the exhale the practitioner says, “Breathing out, I am solid.”

Over the next three cycles of inhales and exhales, the practitioner silently repeats, “mountain” on the inhale and “solid” on the exhale.

The practitioner then lays the pebble down on the right side of their body.

*

The practitioner then picks up the third stone with the left hand and transfers it to the right hand.

Holding the pebble in the right hand, the practitioner says while inhaling, “Breathing in, I see myself as still, clear water.” On the exhale the practitioner says, “Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.”

Over the next three cycles of inhales and exhales, the practitioner silently repeats, “clear water” on the inhale and “reflecting” on the exhale.

The practitioner then lays the pebble down on the right side of their body.

*

The practitioner then picks up the fourth stone with the left hand and transfers it to the right hand.

Holding the pebble in the right hand, the practitioner says while inhaling, “Breathing in, I see myself as space.” On the exhale the practitioner says, “Breathing out, I am free.”

Over the next three cycles of inhales and exhales, the practitioner silently repeats, “space” on the inhale and “free” on the exhale.

The practitioner then lays the pebble down on the right side of their body.

*

You may choose to continue to do this meditation with your child(ren) after the initial teaching, leave your child to practice on their own or with other children.

According to Thich Nhat Hanh, this meditation teaches the four qualities of happiness: beauty/freshness (flower), stability/solidity (mountain), peace/tranquility (still water), freedom/liberation (space/emptiness).

Additionally, once children become comfortable with the practice, they can also relate to the stones as a tangible object to direct themselves to whenever they are feeling out of sorts in any of these four domains of happiness. Perhaps, holding a pebble and repeating the “still, clear water” phrasing when feelings of confusion arise or “space” phrasing if they are having a hard time releasing something.

If you are looking for a way to introduce formal meditation to your children, Pebble Meditation may be a nice foray into establishing a practice. I will definitely be introducing it to my five year old very soon (in fact, I’m thinking she may just receive a pouch of pebbles for the holidays).

I hope you and your family have an opportunity to work with this meditation, too!