Meditation isn’t only beneficial for adults.
Steffany Butts-Boucher has witnessed firsthand how a calm, quiet environment can have a noticeable effect on kids. When the meditation teacher, whose background is in education, took over as interim principal at a Colorado charter school, she wondered how to adjust the culture and give kids boundaries. After introducing a silent reading period first thing in the morning, the difference in the kids was palpable.
“It’s interesting how setting the tone really changed the whole structure of their space and day, and how they felt going through the day,” said Butts-Boucher, owner of Echo Healing Arts Studio in Manitou Springs.
With that in mind, she and Erin Gocinski, a Manitou Springs High School art teacher, who also teaches mindfulness to her students, created Treehouse Meditation for parents and children. The hourlong practice is intended to help kids learn how their minds work and how their breathing can affect how they feel. The class also can help with stress management and developing mindfulness and empathy, and serve to connect parent and child.
Ten-minute meditations are interspersed with periods of play, to help with short attention spans and also as alternative ways to work on mindfulness. Kids as young as 3 or 4 can learn to meditate, though the class is generally aimed at those in first grade and older, Butts-Boucher said. She leaves it to parents to decide if their child is ready.
The class is Sunday at Kreuser Gallery. Attendees should bring water, a yoga mat and blankets or pillows.
“We call it treehouse because it connects to childhood and the idea of play, as well as a time to connect with self,” Butts-Boucher said. “Treehouses are places where the imagination can soar, but they’re also a soothing place for kids, where they have their own space. It’s a practice of going up into a space.”
Class begins with treehouse breathwork, where kids can learn and express how their bodies feel when they breathe in particular patterns. It’s followed by rhythm walking meditation, which varies from the walking meditation adults typically do, with slow steps and a mantra. In this case, attendees do clapping patterns and take steps or make movements related to sound patterns. That’s followed by a hopscotch meditation, where kids and parents will hop to stations around the room and do different body movements or activities. A final nest and heartbeat meditation closes class, with parents and kids creating a nest of blankets and pillows and resting together to get grounded.
By offering a range of activities, kids and parents can pick and choose what they like and might want to continue doing outside of class.
“Meditation deepens kids’ connection with others,” Butts-Boucher said. “It can improve sleep for adults and children, and improve focus and attention spans.”
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