Dr Noel Keating
In this article I present an account of what it can be like for a child to experience meditation, based on what children have told me. I want to stress that this is not the experience of any one child. Although written in the first person, the description is a composite of the comments of many different children. Its purpose is to give the reader a strong sense of what the experience can be like, a rich sense of how meditation can be experienced.
Because it is written in the first person, it may give the impression that the experience is more dramatically powerful than it is; that is not the intention. But I hope that some aspect or other of the description may resonate with the reader and convey a deeper understanding of what it can be like for a child to meditate.
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I like meditation because it’s so peaceful and quiet. I thought meditation would be boring. I didn’t think I would be able to do it. But I can and I really like it now. Meditation makes me happy. It gives you a break from your worries. Sometimes you don’t know you need a break until you take it and then it feels so good when you do. I discovered that for myself.
“It’s not like you’re asleep when you meditate, but it’s a different kind of being awake.”
When I meditate it feels like my whole body has stopped. I’ve stopped moving, I’ve stopped working and I just feel at peace with the world.
It’s not like you’re asleep when you meditate, but it’s a different kind of being awake. Meditation brings me inside myself. It feels like it is somewhere deep inside. I can’t describe the feeling. It feels like you are just thinking – well, not thinking, but just sitting there. I’m not thinking about what’s going to happen next. A certain kind of emotion comes inside of me and it makes me feel happier; if I was in bad form before meditation, I feel good afterwards. I don’t know why, but whatever was bothering me doesn’t seem to matter so much after meditation. I’m able to let it go. Even when it’s noisy outside, the noise doesn’t distract me – it feels calm and quiet.
“Even when it’s noisy outside, the noise doesn’t distract me – it feels calm and quiet.”
Whatever is happening around me doesn’t disturb my meditation. I can hear the sounds around – the rain on the roof, cars passing by, a dog barking – but I let it all go. It’s like I’m slowly sinking into myself and, when I get deep enough, it’s as if my heart opens up and I realise more what I’m feeling. I’m not thinking about my feelings, but I feel them more. I realise how I actually feel and how others feel. Sometimes I realise that something I said or did wasn’t nice and that I need to apologise for it. Then I’m able to let it go and, later on, after meditation I can say ‘Sorry’.
“It’s as if all the stuff that had built up before the meditation is gone and there’s loads of space for starting again.”
Meditation gives me energy. It’s as if all the stuff that had built up before the meditation is gone and there’s loads of space for starting again. Wherever I am when I meditate, it feels like I’m just here now and this is exactly where I’m supposed to be; it feels like I’m somewhere I always wanted to be since I was small. It feels like everything is right with the world. I’m not thinking about happy things, but it’s as if I’m surrounded by happiness. My heart feels really happy. It’s as if the space that is filled when all my thoughts and worries have left… it’s as if that space is filled by happiness and love.
Recently I saw a beautiful picture of fish swimming in a coral reef and it reminded me of meditation. Everything was bright and colourful and the fish were happy and free. They could just be themselves. It made me realise that meditation is like that for me. I can just be myself.
Some days meditation makes me happy and sad at the same time. My Nana died last year and I always feel she is close to me in meditation. And that makes me feel very close to God as well because she is with him now.
“It’s as if I’ve reached a certain part of me that has the most goodness and every time I meditate I find it again.
Meditation makes me realise all the goodness inside me and in everybody. Even people I don’t really like or who are not very nice to me. Even bad people, only they can’t see the goodness in themselves. It’s as if I’ve reached a certain part of me that has the most goodness and every time I meditate I find it again. It feels like this is who I really am. And, often, it feels like God is there, filling my heart with love. I don’t worry about what’s going to happen next. I just let everything be itself; and me be me.