Last night saw great improvement in the kids’ behavior and ability to participate more maturely in reflective prayer (meditation).
By the way, one of the boys asked at the outset of class, “Are we gonna pray again like last week?” I got a kick out of that because he was one of the kids who had trouble being still the previous week, although he was not a problem per se. I think he enjoys the “something different” feeling that the prayer opportunity gives him and he was eager to have this time again. I’m sure he doesn’t fully understand the reflective prayer experience, but he’s obviously attracted to the experience if only for the change of pace.
I did a reflection on the nearness of God, focusing on Psalm 139. As always, I began with a few directions for centering and relaxing…focusing on breathing, relaxing shoulder and back muscles, etc. Throughout, I had soft instrumental music playing in the background. The kids were spread out around the room, most on the floor, some in their chairs. Lights dimmed. Fake candle flickering (we have fire restrictions).
Next, I guided them through some reflections on Psalm 139 (provided in the catechist guide) eventually ending up with them speaking and listening silently to God who is nearer to them then they are to themeselves. In all, the reflection lasted about 10 minutes. The last 3 minutes, I faded out the music and told them to just spaek to God about whatever is in their hearts.
THE KIDS WERE PERFECTLY SILENT FOR THOSE 3 MINUTES!
I invited them to gradually return their focus to the room and to return to their seats. I congratulated them, saying, “Congratulations, 8th graders…you just meditated!” They were very proud of themselves. I told them that what they just accomplished is not easy nor is it common for kids their age in this noisy and busy world.
This was very good progress and it bodes well for future guided reflections (meditations). Soon, I will show them how they can take this technique and use it on their own instead of relying on someone to lead the meditation.
We too have used prepared mediation for 8th graders with some success – usually takes 2-3 sessions for everyone to get comfortable and not be a little silly, but well worth it.
I found a resource w/ prepared short student prayers and responses that lead up to a shorter, maybe 3 minute mediation + 2-3 minutes of music and reflection.
Did you write out your mediation or know of a source for longer. mere in depth ones?
Brad, thanks for the update. Can you share the resource you used? The meditations I’ve used this year are from the Finding God junior high program. In the past I have written out meditations.