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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Sharing Hot Chocolate: A Meditation with Children

Jan 31, 2020 09:30AM ● By Nicole Hale Bettis
A pleasant sting of steam fills your nose with the aroma of sweet chocolate as you bring a warm ceramic mug to your face. You enjoy the moment. Just then, the air is filled with excitement, as laughter and squeals break your reverie, and your hot beverage cools too quickly as you leave it to try to quiet the stampede of children. If only the gleeful noisemakers could join you in attending inward to themselves through hot chocolate.

But they can!

Turns out that the simple act of drinking hot chocolate is an excellent way to introduce the practice of meditation to young children. Providing a ritual that’s associated with something familiar—and fun—creates both a teaching moment and a medium through which to focus. As lead Montessori educator for three- to six-year-olds, I use the following guided meditation regularly.

Breathe & Feel

After gathering everyone in a circle, let them know that today you will be drinking hot chocolate together. This invites them to notice the day’s weather and to become aware of their present surroundings.

Say to them, “It’s cold outside! Wouldn’t you like something warm?”

Then, with a “Brrrrr,” bid them to mimic you as you put your arms around yourself. Ask them to think of something warm to settle the cold, and then offer them hot chocolate. It’s likely they will begin getting excited just at the thought of participating.

Continue. “As we sit tall and strong, we extend our hands in front of our bodies, cupping our palms upward as though we were holding a mug.

“Feel the warmth in your hands. Do you feel how your hands are starting to move from cold to warm as you hold your hot chocolate tightly?”

Invite the children to relax into imagining a cup of hot chocolate in their hands. Suggest that they imagine a sensation of warmth that’s concentrated in their palms. This brings their focus to a singular point—one they can relate to.

“I bet it smells as good as it feels! Let’s all bring our cups to our noses and take a deep breath.” Invite the children to breathe in deeply through their noses and out through their mouths. It may take a little practice—on your part and on theirs. The important thing is to sit patiently with these young breathers!

If you choose to, extend the breathing exercise by asking the group if they think the hot chocolate is cool enough to drink yet. Prompt them to remark that the hot chocolate is too hot, and that it might be necessary to find a way to cool it down.

Breathe & Cool

 “Let’s taste it. Oh! It’s too hot. Maybe we should blow on it to cool it down. Let’s all take a deep breath in through our noses and out through our mouths.” Repeat this guided breathing two more times. The imagery will help the children concentrate on their breathing.

 “Good. Now, let’s bring the cup to our mouths. Does it taste good? Mmmm. Can we all say, ‘Mmmm?’” By directing a sound so similar to the sacred 'Om,' under the guise of being pleased with the smell of hot chocolate, you successfully introduce the children to their first experience of mindfulness.

Exercises like this help bring meditation and mindfulness to the youngsters. Research has shown the tremendous benefits of such practices; some even suggest that they give new focus and clarity to children with attention deficit disorders. Anyone who lives and works with children has access to these simple, fun and appealing techniques. Anyone can start with a cup of hot chocolate and nudge a child down the wonderful road to mindfulness and meditation.

Nicole Bettis is a therapist, researcher, consultant and visual artist turned Montessori teacher. She has two children and teaches art and English lessons in her spare time. She has been a practicing Buddhist for many years.

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