Meditation is for Kids, Too: An Interview with Adam Moskowitz
We asked WITHIN teacher Adam Moskowitz to talk about his experience teaching meditation to kids and educators, and his thoughts on how (and why) to practice mindfulness. Here’s what he shared with us.
How did you get started with meditation?
Years ago a friend occasionally invited me down to a place called Jikoji Zen Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was a lovely thing to be able to practice within a community, on that beautiful land, and in the silence for a weekend here and there. Soon after, I began to read books, discover local teachers, and find my way towards establishing a deeper relationship to the practice.
Going on meditation retreats is often described as a key part of deepening practice. What have you experienced on retreat?
I once spent three weeks at a monastery in the Sagaing hills of Burma, as I was deepening my interest in exploring the Burmese Vipassana meditation method and retreat format. I had so looked forward to this deep, quiet, intensive experience—the morning wake up bell was at 3:30 am, and each day consisted of fourteen scheduled hours of practice. The milky, rich, sweet tea at the breakfast table during each cold morning was, by far, the most welcomed sensory experience I’ve ever had in my life. The way that the people from this village welcomed me has touched my heart in a way that I cannot explain. And, to this day, it was the most powerful reminder of the deep trust I have for this practice.
What led you to begin teaching meditation?
I was a schoolteacher for ten years, and I eventually started to teach mindfulness meditation to kids. It’s wonderful to witness children discover something deep, reliable, and steady within their own being, to learn that ease, choice and resource are not far away, or even around the corner, but literally right here. In my experience, kids can access this wisdom more quickly than adults.
Over time, I began more formal training to integrate mindfulness in education.
At one particular training, I heard a mentor say the following: “Awareness is a human right.” For whatever reason, in that moment, those words landed deeply in the marrow of my bones, and propelled me forward towards a deeper understanding of the value of offering mindfulness-based practices to youth.
Over the years, what kept me going was reading the beautiful, poetic journal entries that young people write when they have structured guidance, and time to go inward through awareness practices. I’ll never forget one student who wrote, “I can’t remember my life without it! I don’t want to think about that!”
Over time, it seemed important to begin offering stress-reduction, and mindfulness opportunities to educators—the people spending all the time with the kids. Teachers deserve a lot more than the apples they get every year on Teacher Appreciation Day. And kids deserve educators who are well cared for. As I started to design trainings for educators, I discovered that I love connecting with adults just as much as kids!
What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started with meditation?
I once heard someone compare meditation to pouring a huge bucket full of water over a vase with an extremely thin neck. You really have to pour a lot of water to get a few drops of water into the vase. But if you keep pouring and pouring, and let go of the fact that most of it doesn’t enter the vase, you’ll eventually fill it up. If you’re curious about meditation—or even desperate for a shift—give it a real chance.
Be consistent. Find your teachers. Ask for real support. Practice with other people. Try to do it regularly. But, relax. Don’t be hard on yourself. There’s no failing.
We’re pretty good at telling ourselves that there’s something wrong, even when we’re meditating. We tend to think that we’re meditating “well” when we feel peace, or clarity, but perhaps the deeper lesson arises out of our relationship to the moments when we are feeling none of those things. And, since there’s no failing, there’s also no passing. There’s no certificate.
What’s your favorite way to incorporate mindfulness into your day?
That’s a tough question because my favorite “moments of mindfulness” are pleasant surprises that sort of burst onto the scene, unplanned, unincorporated. But, if I had to pick one, I’d say preparing my coffee feels like something special!
What do you love about teaching at WITHIN?
I’m so happy when I’ve finally learned someone’s name because that means they keep coming back! It’s a wonderful thing to know that we’re here for people, and I’m constantly blown away that people take time out of their busy, busy lives to come and sit. I love hearing about how people encounter meditation, their celebrations, challenges, and questions. And, I care deeply for those shared moments of quiet, and stillness.
Adam teaches our morning and midday classes on Tuesdays. He’s passionate about teaching meditation to teachers and kids, and helping them bring mindfulness into their daily lives. Join him for a class this week!