Young and old
Children can practice, seriously and playfully,
in ways befitting their age. A very simple ritual at mealtime or
bedtime may be enough for everyone involved. If a young child expresses
an interest in meditation, suggest the "chrysanthemum" or "half-chrysanthemum" position
(definition: any position you like). A twelve-year-old boy explains
why he enjoys meditating: "It awakens my brain so I can think
What are some meaningful ways to nurture children’s
Some practices assume surprising forms when translated
for children. For a teenager, being mindful may mean: When you are
talking on the phone, just talk on the phone. Unexpected questions
are bound to come up. "Mom, how do you fix the precepts once they're
Children find ways to deal with religious activities
that do not feel natural to them. When young Dhyana Cabarga and her
friend Audrey were included in events at a California Zen center, they
began adding the word "not," sotto voce, to communal chants. The mealtime
verses thus became:
Innumerable labors brought us this food; we should
know how it comes to us.
Receiving this offering, we should not consider whether our
virtue and practice deserve it.
Not desiring the natural order of mind, we should not be
from greed, hate, and delusion.
This food is not for the Three Treasures; it is not for
family, and all beings.
Which is preferable, chanting "not" or not
chanting? "Saying the chant. this way was fun, and
no one knew we were doing it," Dhyana recalls. "And
we didn't know if our virtue and practice deserved it
In this food we clearly see the
presence of the entire universe supporting our existence.
Thich Nhat Hanh