Olivia Roney has been teaching martial arts to preschoolers across Indiana for more than 10 years, and she has noticed that many parents commiserate over the same thing: the shrinking attention spans of kids. Roney calls it “monkey mind,” a Buddhist term for restlessness, swinging from one thought to another. Rather than try to force calm on her students in a time-out, Roney created the concept of “chime out,” using sound meditation techniques she learned in yoga-teacher training to quiet the racing thoughts of distracted children.
Your Chime, her illustrated children’s book about monkey mind, comes with a metal chime bowl and wooden striker ($50 for the set) and has step-by-step instructions for a 14-second sound meditation. Fourteen seconds sounds quick, but Roney and her staff got such great feedback from parents in an early pilot study that she expanded it to all classes at Crouching Tigers, her mobile martial-arts program serving more than 1,000 kids in schools, libraries, and day care centers in Central Indiana. Every class begins with students sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed, breathing deeply. The teacher rings the chime to signal the start of 14 seconds of stillness, for the full length of the chime. “What’s most important for my students is that they believe it works,” says Roney. “They believe this sound is chasing away the monkeys, and that’s where the magic happens.”
Roney has even noticed her students encouraging their parents to take part in the meditation, too. “It’s really fun to see a kid say, ‘You know, I think I have monkey mind. Would you like to chime out with me?’” she says. “It’s a beautiful thing I didn’t expect.”