Why should children Meditate?
The state of Meditation or ‘going within’ can easily be achieved when we turn off any outside stimulus, close our eyes, and do nothing. Sounds simple, however, we can easily overcomplicate things. When we attach the need to succeed at meditating, or when we have unrealistic expectations of what it should be. Like any practice, the art of meditation is slowly developed over time, and the simple becomes profound. In the beginning, it can be difficult to sit still for more than 5 minutes, let alone quiet the mind, stop all thoughts, reach Nirvana and become Enlightened! Fear not, we all need to crawl before we can walk.
Meditation is inherently a part of us all as human beings, it is the place that connects us to all that is, and allows us to remember who we really are. Unfortunately, becoming familiar with this place can be a struggle. It is in the unlearning of the “Monkey Mind”, the constant stream of thoughts that we have become accustomed to; the state of being constantly distracted, stimulated, stressed or playing out scenarios from the past or future, whether actual events or made up, that we all must face on this perilous road of self-discovery. It is returning too, and welcoming the most natural state of quiet, that most adults struggle to address as they ‘learn to meditate’.
However, if you persist, beyond the thoughts of ‘I’m not doing it properly’, or ‘I’m wasting my time’, eventually the quiet, peaceful, blackness behind your eyes, transforms into the deep, intelligent depths of infinite awareness and your commitment delivers the gift of expanded consciousness.
It at this stage where you ‘know’ you have been meditating, you may now bring this awareness into your waking life- although subtle, here are the rewards you can see. The greatest gifts are the abilities of self-reflection, the way you can now see beyond your habits, patterns and beliefs and you can change the way you react to situations- you now have the ability to respond, to pause, to decide who you are, in each moment.
Teaching Children to Meditate
Unlike adults, children don’t need to learn to meditate. Given the opportunity and the proper encouragement, they quite easily, slow down their thoughts and can quite happily do ‘what they are doing’. They are quite often masters of ‘being in the moment’ and rarely need to be reminded of the precious now.
As, we don’t need to teach children to meditate, but allow and encourage them to meditate, we open up the potential for them to develop all the gifts that meditation practice will deliver including:
Reduce Anxiety and Stress Levels– Kids can be stressed as much if not more than adults these days and practising meditation techniques, such as deep breathing, thinking of things they happy about, or grateful for and relaxing their bodies is something they can use to self regulate in the real world when things get hard or when they experience a challenge.
Helping to Develop a Healthy Sleep Routine- This can benefit both parent and child, as night-time routines can be hard on everyone if they don’t go to plan. Meditation can give kids the perfect space to calm their mind, relax and signal them to easily fall asleep.
Increased Focus – When we practice calming our mind in meditation, it becomes more natural to us in our waking life, kids that have practiced meditation show greater abilities to focus and concentrate.
Develop Emotional Intelligence- Becoming aware of our feelings allows us to better understand our emotions, and how to express them in a healthy manner. Meditation greatly enhances our ability to identify both our own as well as other peoples feelings and see another point of view- helping to develop greater compassion and empathy.
Confidence and Self-Esteem- Knowing and understanding yourself on a deeper level, leads to greater self-confidence, self-respect and overall self-acceptance. Children who love and accept themselves are less likely to give in to peer- pressure. When you can change the way you feel using meditation techniques, you can always be there for yourself and you require less validation from the outside world.
Meditation need not be something ‘hard’ or something that is only for a select few Saints and Gurus, Yogi’s and that one friend of your’s that just ‘gets’ it. You can learn to ease your Monkey Mind. Lay down, unplug, take a few deep breaths, and you are on your way.