At the SCBWI conference in New Orleans, I met Whitney Stewart. She is a nonfiction writer. I bought her book, Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids. Whitney has practiced meditation throughout her life, but only recently turned this love into a picture book and mindfulness teaching.
Earlier this week I used her book as our read aloud. I found meditation music online, turned out the lights, gathered pillows, and asked my students to settle down for meditation. This was easier for some more than others. One student opted to sit in his desk and put his head down. Another opted to continue writing a slice. But a few sat cross-legged on pillows, closed their eyes, and listened to the meditation prompt from the book.
There was movement. There were giggles. Meditation was a new idea, an awkward idea. This may take a while to get the hang of.
I read two of the meditation exercises. The second one, Protection Circle, asked the students to imagine a glowing ball of white light between their eyebrows. “Breathe out and send the light out of your forehead to surround your body.” Then we moved on to a red light in your throat and a blue light inside your heart. Each ball of light was breathed out to encircle you with light.
Following the meditation, Kaiden said to me, “I imagined the three balls of color were fear, anger, and sadness. But when they left my body, they looked like balls of fire.”
This morning, two of my students came into my room before school asking if they could meditate. Again they sat on pillows on the floor with lights out. I read another meditation from Whitney’s book. They said they felt calmer and more prepared to start their day.
Whitney’s meditation book is illustrated with child-like images of an elephant and a monkey. While reading aloud, the illustrations don’t matter. What matters is the space to clear the mind.
I don’t know if I’ll keep this up, but I wanted to try it. My students are especially stressed because they just completed 10 days of practice testing, and the actual state testing starts in two weeks. Meditation works for me. I’m glad to have a resource for passing it on to my students.