Weaving the Magic Circle:
Teaching Spirituality to Children
by Kamala Alister
"Make a magic circle," I sing. Children gather
quickly on the carpet from their places around the classroom.
"Take three steps around." They sing with
me now and we step together, "I...2...3."
"Pass the magic signal", we sing together.
I press the hand of child next to me. He passes the
"squeeze" on to the next person and everyone
waits with anticipation as it works its way around..
"Quietly sit down." Everyone sits cross-legged
in a circle. This is the beginning morning circle with
"Little Family" at the Ananda Marga River
School in Maleny. I enjoy the challenge of bringing
spiritual concepts, meditation and yoga into the children's
lives, in a child-appropriate way, to help them feel
centred and connected.
"Does everybody remember the snake posture?"
I ask. Children lie on their bellies and push up their
heads with a hissing sound. Its the "cobra"
yoga posture. "The cat?" The get on all fours
and arch their back with a meow."The palm tree?"
They balance on one leg with hands above head in the
"tree" posture. "Good, now we're ready
for the story. Once there was a cuddly cat (they all
do the cat pose) and a slippery snake (they do the cobra
pose) in a forest filled with palm trees (they jump
up into the tree pose.)" As the story progresses
they "act out" the story while moving from
pose to pose with each mention of snake, cat and tree.
By the end they've had a wonderful flexibility workout
and are ready for more!
Meditation time. The children sit with legs crossed,
hands in lap, back straight, eyes closed. We sing one
of our meditation songs. "i feel love, I feel it
all around me. I feel peace like the great open sea.
I feel love, it is all I can see. I feel joy, I feel
it flowing through me!" The children sing and do
hand motions with the words. The song gets quieter and
we change the words to a Sanskrit chant which means
"Love is all there is." Soon we are just whispering,
and then I ask the children to sing the song inside
their head only. I ask them to listen with their "inside"
ears to the sound of the mantra and to use their "inside"
eyes to see a loving light around them. The room falls
silent. An occasional child fidgets or opens her eyes,
and closes them as soon as I look over at her. On some
days I walk quietly around the room, and place a small
paper star on the third eye of each child who is sitting
quietly. (Naturally anyone who has their eyes open at
that point, quickly closes them so they can get a star,
too!) After a long two minutes for these 5, 6 and 7
year olds, I begin to sing quietly again and they sing
along. A few keep their eyes closed and remain in meditation
until I remind them they can open their eyes.
Some days we practice mantra meditation so that children
can experience their mind getting very still and quiet.
Mantra meditation is a difficult skill that develops
concentration and relaxation with potential rewards
of inner peace and a sense of spiritual connection.
On other days we use guided visualisations. Children
love to go on an "Inner journey" with their
imagination. Visualisations are powerful and very important
for children. The images of the Inner Journey, used
with a little bit of skill and creativity, can help
comfort, teach, relax and inspire. But simply the process
of conjuring up images with the imagination is vital
to building children's brain power. TV's, movies and
computer too often provide ready-made images, depriving
the mind of the opportunity to invent its own pictures
and robbing children of important creative skills.
Morning Circle at the Ananda Marga River School in
Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands, is the part
of the curriculum that helps develop "Inner Me."
For the fifty children from preschool to year 7, there
are activities throughout the day designed to help children
develop all parts of their personality: Feeling Me,
Creative Me. Thinking Me, Active Me and Helping me as
well as "Inner me" During Inner Me time especially
songs, stories and games are the main teaching tools,
especially for the younger children. Morning Circle
stories this term have included stories such as 'Granny
Goes to the Mountains." In this story a grey-haired
"Granny' puppet wakes up on a spring day and decides
she wants to go meditate in the mountains. Along the
way she walks down the road, over the river, through
the rain forest, and up the steep mountain. We sing
a song for each part of her journey. Finally arriving
at the beautiful mountaintop, she sits amidst the beauty
and goes deep within (now the children sit ready for
meditation.) A bird flies by and Granny is so still,
the bird makes a nest in her hands. The bird feels so
much peace and love in Granny's folded hands that she
lays a tiny egg (I place a small stone in each child's
folded hands.) She realises that she must now stay very
still, so as not to disturb the bird and its precious
egg, so she continues to meditate SO peacefully. After
many days, the egg hatches and the birds fly away. Granny
finally opens her eyes, stretches and walks back down
the mountain, through the forest, down the stream and
back home, singing along the way. ... In other days
in meditation, I remind the children to sit as quietly
A favourite game with all ages at the River School
is the intuition game. Four coloured pieces of paper
hang behind three volunteers who face the rest of the
class. I point at one colour so the rest of the children
can see and ask them to mentally "send" the
colour to the children at the front. Then the children
at the front take an "intuitional" guess at
what colour I have chosen. Children that answer correctly
stay in front for another round, while those who get
it wrong choose someone else to take their place. Some
children (and teachers) stay up for five or six rounds.
They are learning how to listen to the voice of their
Teachers who meditate regularly with their children
say it makes a remarkable difference in the classroom.
When we hone our "inner" senses we balance
the constant pressure of our world to find happiness
outside of ourselves, and learn to search within for
Thanks to: Vistara School teachers, Trudi Cawley-Muir,
Michael Haigh and the "Circle of Love Manual"
for ideas presented here. The Ananda Marga River School
is located on 25 acres of rain forest an hour outside
For more information, contact the school by e-mail at:
firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our web page (www.suncoast.com.au/Maleny/AnandaMargaRiverSchool),
or simply ring on (07) 5494 3559.