Meditation has its origins in Vedanta which is a part of Hindu traditions. For a long time, it was thought to be a practice fit only for adults. But now the times are changing and an increased number of children are showing their interest in meditating. Many schools have replaced detention with meditation and are focusing on teaching kids the importance of it. Studies have proved that starting meditation early in life has a profound effect on the intellectual, emotional and mental development of an individual. Meditation helps kids to unplug and relax. The simple act of teaching kids to stop, focus and breathe can bring a huge difference in their lives.
In order to help children take a break from their routines, the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends parents to encourage their children to meditate and teachers to include mindfulness training in their curriculum. It is the biggest gift that parents and teachers can give to the children. The benefits of meditation on children are many.
Better concentration – Meditation helps the kids to focus better and thus increase their concentration in whatever they do. It also helps children to remember things more clearly.
Reduced anxiety – Childhood is certainly a carefree time but it Is not free from ‘fears’ – fear of being not up to the mark, fear of the unknown, fear of the dark. Meditating techniques teaches children to be present at the moment without being afraid of the future. They are taught to concentrate on one thought at a time. It gives them power and control over their lives. Thus, it reduces anxiety and stress.
Physical benefits – It helps in building a better immune system and relaxes muscles. It also helps in relieving headaches. The calming effect of meditation helps the children to sleep soundly.
Emotional development – Children often feel irritated and frustrated due to a variety of reasons like academic stress, non-fulfillment of demands etc. Meditation helps in building up of emotional stability in kids. It helps in developing courage and strength in children. Meditating helps in developing a calm and composed mind in children.
Spiritual benefits – With regular practice of meditation, children become more connected to their environment and other people. It also gives a greater sense of the purpose of life.
Meditation techniques –
Breathing practices in meditation promote calmness in the mind. It is the most common form of meditating which involves sitting quietly, closing eyes and concentrating on one’s breath. It does not requires much practice and can be practiced easily by children also. There are other techniques as well as concentration, mindfulness, movement based, emptying and cultivating positive emotions.
(Image courtesy – www.healthychildren.org )
How to teach children to incorporate meditation into their lives –
For starters, fix a time-frame for children to meditate. Pediatricians recommend the following :
Playgroup children – a few minutes per day
Primary children – 3 to 10 twice a day
Teens – 5 to 45 minutes per day
At bedtime, teach the children to practice breathing exercises every day.
Organise meditation sessions in schools with the help of trained professionals or counselors.
Incorporate new ways of encouraging children to meditate like audio recordings, videos, online training and phone apps.
It is better to inculcate this wonderful habit in children early in life. Many people who practice meditation as adults lament not having it started as children and speculate that they might have been less depressed; been happier; made a greater contribution to the world and avoided substance abuse if they would have done so. Therefore, encourage your child to meditate regularly in order to foster better growth and development.
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