As a seasoned, bilingual educator, I see that kids need specific skills to calm their bodies and minds. In addition to teaching, I’ve been practicing meditation, mindfulness and metta (loving-kindness) for over 25 years. One dharma talk I heard at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, centered around how to train ourselves to stay with our breath and not get swept up by our racing train of thoughts. Stay in the station, as they say. You can also liken it to passing clouds in the sky. Just letting our thoughts pass, and not going down the rabbit hole of “what ifs” which flood our brains with emotions about hypothetical scenarios, allows us to stay in the present.
I published my first book 10 years ago and have since seen the impact that children’s books have as a catalyst to help children process difficult emotions. Given the uncertain times we’re in right now, many children (and, again, adults!) whom I encounter are dealing with increased anxiety. Meditation Station creates a relatable analogy. Kids love trains and they also can understand the basic concept of staying in the station and not getting caught up in our racing train of thoughts. The other day, I heard meditation and mindfulness compared to not being a pinball in a pinball machine. We don’t want to be in an incessant reactionary state; rather, we want to stay steady, like the sturdy tree trunk when the wind blows. We may bend slightly but, if our roots are planted firmly as we connect to our breath and body, we won’t get blown over.
In Meditation Station, the idea is that we center ourselves and watch our thoughts pass, like trains — coming and going, but that we don’t have to get on any of those trains. Some trains (or thoughts) may look inviting like the cargo car with candy and toys, or the one where we rethink what we should have said in a past conversation. But, those are past and future foci. We want to stay calm and in the moment, the now. So, can you find your Meditation Station and just wave to the passing trains? Woo-hoo! I mean, Choo-Choo!
All aboard! Your racing train of thoughts may try to whisk you off down the railroad tracks, but you can choose to stay in the Meditation Station, focusing on your breath and tuning into your body. This adorable picture book, illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan, for children ages 4-8, teaches kids (and, let’s be honest, adults too!) how to calm their bodies and minds.
(Meditation Station, Bala Kids/Shambhala Publications, Fall 2020) Winner of the 2020 International Book Award for Best Children’s Mind/Body/Soul Book)