Do you know any littles who are anxious, wild, and can’t sit still? A Vancouver company wants to help introduce kids to mindfulness and bring inner peace through meditation. Mala Collective‘s new line, called Little Buddhi, is a selection of adorable character cushions, blankets and guided meditations to help kids focus, ground, and connect to their emotions. We chatted with founder Ashley Wray about her vision and aim around this—and, quite frankly, think we could do with meditating on a sloth cushion ourselves! —Vita Daily
Hi Ashley! Please tell us a bit about yourself and about Mala Collective to start.
Mala Collective started 10 years ago through serendipity. I used to be a journalist (covering murder trials … I know it’s the opposite of what I do now!). My partner and I at the time quit our jobs and went travelling. We ended up in Bali. There we fell in love with mala beads —a string of beads you can use to count your mantras and keep your focus in meditation. As we were flying from Bali to Thailand a beautiful woman came up to us on the plane and told us she liked our aura. It turns out she was the woman who made the beads we had fallen in love with! It was serendipity. She told us the beads embody peace, and the more the world wears the beads, the more the world will be at peace, and that the West needs peace the most. We committed to helping her then and there. Now, 10 yeas later, we design and create products to help support a meditation practice. From mala beads to meditation cushions to crystals and guided meditations. I’m also a meditation teacher and business coach, helping others start nd grow a business aligned to their values and purpose.
You’re now launching a kids meditation brand, Little Buddhi, that’s really a first of its kind. Can you tell us what products you’re offering, and what the vision/aim is?
Yes! This was a vision I had years ago in meditation—a vision of kids meditating together. When the pandemic hit, we realized it was time. We had so many parents emailing us about their kids using their cushions and malas, and we knew we had to bring this vision to life. For us, it’s all about introducing kids to mindfulness in a fun and playful way. We wanted it to be playful, colourful and accessible. We know that meditation has so many positive impacts for adults, and those also translate to kids. Helping them learn to focus on one thing at a time, reducing anxiety and stress by helping them find their breath, and regulating emotions—which means less meltdowns! The styles we made are characters of different animals. We wanted kids to learn about how to slow down like a sloth. And be grounded like an elephant. Or let their thoughts pass like clouds. They are are inspired by playful animals that they can turn to when they want to connect with their breath.
How do you think the pandemic has impacted kids, in terms of anxiety/stress? How can mindfulness and meditation help?
I think like all of us, it brought it uncertainty, anxiety and the unknown. Mindfulness has been a powerful practice in helping to ground through those feelings. Reconnecting to breath, finding peace within ourselves, and getting out of our head and into our body is a beautiful practice when we’re feeling anxious.
Do you have any top tips or advice when it comes to introducing our littles to mindfulness/meditation practices?
Go slow and be easy on yourself! This process doesn’t have a right or wrong. When I’m teaching adults in meditation they always feel they’re doing it wrong and are quick to give up after a few tries. That’s why I try to keep it lighter and more. When working with kids, you can keep the practice short. Maybe 2-3 minutes. You can also move around—doing a slow walking meditation. Or you can try breathing exercises, like box breathing, where you inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4. With kids, it’s a fun practice to have them trace their fingers through the air and draw a box as they breathe. Just know there is no wrong way to do this. Whatever works for you and your littles, lean into that! Make it fun and keep it light. Too often kids associate alone time with a timeout or being grounded. Let’s shift the perspective into an opportunity to slow down and connect to breath.
What’s your favourite daily mindfulness or meditation practice?
I love my morning gratitude practice. Every morning I write out a page of what I’m grateful for, followed by a page of reflecting journaling. I’ve been doing this for two years and it’s helped me immensely. I notice that I am more positive, abundant and open to new ideas through the day. I also notice my gratitude flows through my language and interactions throughout the day, sharing that thankfulness with those around me. I also have a meditation practice although it’s different each day. Some days I sit in my meditation space at home, others I like to do a walking meditation. Sometimes I listen to a guided meditation, and sometimes its a sound bath with crystal bowls. I notice in the spring/summer I am more prone to getting outside and doing a walking meditation. And in the fall/winter I am at home on my cushion using my mala beads!
Win! A Little Buddhi Cuddly Character Meditation Cushion Of Your Choice!
Congrats Michelle C. of North Vancouver, B.C., who will receive a Little Buddhi Cuddly Character Meditation Cushion of their choice! Choose from Happy Tiger, Grounded Elephant, Pink Fox,Slow like a Sloth, Passing Cloud, Shooting Star, Puppy Dog or Cuddly Bear. Please note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) in Instagram directly from @vitadaily.ca. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.