(Newsweek edition: June, 30, 2018)
Why is meditation a beneficial practice for children?
Young minders are still in development but are hampered by the increasing levels of stress as a result of our lifestyles, especially diet and the use of technology. Teaching them meditation helps them to reduce the impact of stress. We know that a stressed brain can’t hold information as effectively, so it impacts their study and concentration levels. Meditation also helps them build a sense of self esteem and resilience. As they learn how to recognize signals in their body that they are feeling stress, they can use mindful techniques to help them counter the effects.
How do you influence young people to meditate?
It depends on the age of the person. First of all, if the person teaching them, the adult, doesn’t meditate but is trying to offer it to their child or teenager, then they are being hypocritical. Why would you ask a young person to do something that we don’t offer to ourselves? Younger children will copy the adults around who are their role models. As they become teens, the person teaching must be authentic in their approach – otherwise the teen will soon oppose any offer of meditation.
Specific techniques for children:
The younger mind requires a more creative approach (their favourite superhero, or other interest) or movement for children who are restless. The breath is quite an abstract concept for children to grasp, so we use techniques and tools to make it visual and tactile. Employing their imagination helps them offload stressful thoughts. It is a good idea to bring in a balance of meditation tools and daily scheduled activities that become habitual and rituals.