Recently, my preschool-age boys and I attended one of Amy Tarrant’s Guided Meditation sessions, at one of Ann Arbor’s public libraries. It was a wonderful experience, with a wealth of information for both the child and parent. I feel like the boys and I, equally, came away with useful tips for dealing with the everyday stresses and anxiety of life.
With a focus on ‘mindfulness’, Amy Tarrant starts the session by dimming the lights. She encourages you to take off your shoes and relax, while seated, on the circle rug. Although we forgot to bring a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, Amy provided several, extra stuffed animals, for the children to choose from, if they so wished. There were about 8 other little ones, between the ages of 2 and 5, in our particular session. One of the librarians begins the session with a read aloud of a familiar story. For our session, the librarian read Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock, which the boys have heard quite often and enjoy.
After the read aloud, Amy encourages us to be mindful of how we are feeling and notice the surroundings around us. We sit up, nice and tall, and practice closing our eyes and taking deep breaths. Then, she asks both the parents and children to follow her in a walk around the room. As we walk, we are to imagine that we are walking in the forest, noticing flowers along the ground. Amy invites the little ones to share what he or she imagines the flowers to look like. Amy urges us to notice the color, smell, touch, and size of the flowers.
A large chunk of the session focuses on breathing for relaxation and relief, particularly in an anxiety-filled or stressful situation. Amy demonstrated how to focus our breaths, in and out, as we traced our fingers, up and down. When the boys are getting particularly worked up, or myself, for that matter, I remind them to use this special breathing technique. It really does relieve stress and reduce the strong, often negative, emotions.
The 45 minute session ends with a craft, which Amy refers to as a ‘breathing buddy’. Made out of a large, athletic sock, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, googly eyes and stuffing, the breathing buddies take on the shape of a caterpillar. Again, you can practice deep breathes in and out, as you trace the bumps of the ‘breathing buddy’. Henry and Teddy loved making their ‘breathing buddies’ and even practiced the new breathing technique, with their ‘buddies’, at home.
According to Amy, meditation at a young age plants the seed of a lifelong resource for dealing with stress or hard situations. I highly recommend attending one of Amy’s guided meditation sessions. The fact that the Ann Arbor libraries are providing these sessions, free of charge, is just awesome! Her upcoming class, for 3 to 5 -year-olds, is on Thursday, February 15th, at 10 AM. It will take place at the Traverwood Library (northeast side of town).
Amy will continue to provide a monthly session, both for the younger students and elementary-age students, in the coming months. Check out www.aadl.org/events, for the upcoming months’ schedule of guided meditation.
- Don’t forget a favorite stuffed animal, pillow, and/or blanket too!