The Benefits of Meditation for children and younger adults.
I have been a strong advocate for incorporating meditation into the lives of our children for awhile now. I, myself, meditate daily even if some days due to the responsibilities of life, it is only for a short amount of time and the emphasis is for centering and clarity. A few years ago when my daughter was in high school, I observed how she and her friends, all straight A students, would stress over their grades and the other dramas of high school as well as some very serious dramas in their lives. Unfortunately, it was the unhealthy stress these kids were experiencing and I watched how it adversely affected them. One of the effects was that it negatively impacted their performance when it came to taking tests because they were so stressed out. I was thrilled to learn that one of the local high school teachers, who appropriately taught college entrance exam preparation, along with other classes incorporated a five minute meditation at the start of each of her classes. She informed us at Open house and I was so happy to hear she was doing this. I asked my daughter how she felt about this mini meditation and she reported that it was very helpful. By the time this class started (6th period), the kids were already “done” but by participating in this exercise, she and her classmates felt centered, more focused and ready to start again. This clarity helped her and her classmates absorb the subject material.
In the Februay 6, 2014 Opinion section of Newsday, an article about the benefits of teaching school kids mindfulness and meditation was written by Anne Michaud. In her article, Michaud provided statistics from schools across the country which have incorporated the use of meditation to the benefit of its students. Meditation not only improved the kids’ ability to cope with stress at high performance schools but also improved behavior in schools where the children struggle. She cites that San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley Middle School has seen a drop in the number of suspensions (from 13% to 6%), an overall increase in the student body’s gpa and a drop in unexcused absences. At another high school in South Baltimore, a physics teacher offers a 10 week after school class in meditation and it is so popular that their school board is now trying to incorporate it as an in school elective. The goal of the class is to teach the students a stress coping skill which can be as valuable as any other class since being unable to cope with stress will negatively impact your ability to function in your life.
At my office, we hold meditation classes which assist people learning how to meditate as well as provide an opportunity for people to meditate in a group who already do so. Time and time again when people leave the class, they feel more relaxed, more in control and more confident in their ability to handle other aspects of their life. One of the meditations held at my office bi-weekly by a colleague of mine, John Cahill, is a favorite activity of my younger daughter who is now 12. John, who is a Regiatered Yoga Teacher as well as a NYS certified teaching assistant, incorporates yoga postures, an occasional QiGong movement, breath work and mudras (hand positions) before the meditation begins which is not only welcomed by this adult but makes it fun for the younger set. Then the meditation is done while lying on a mat, covered with a blanket and eye cover. As her mother, I can tell you that by the end of the meditation, my daughter is calm and usually sleepy. She sleeps very well through the night and wakes up feeling more focused. I have been saying this to people so I was quite pleased to see the article in Newsday and some real life results. Imagine if our children could learn and use this technique from a young age and then use it throughout their lives. They are our future and providing them with this tool is a valuable gift to them which will enhance their lives and, of course, as our future leaders, it will in turn enhance ours!