5 Benefits of Meditation For Children
By definition, meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
No one truly knows for certain exactly when it was invented. Records document meditation or “Dhyana,” inspired by the Hindu tradition of Vendantism, somewhere around 1500 BCE. This would mean that people have practiced the ancient tradition for at least 5,000 years.
Throughout the centuries, different forms such as the Japanese Zazen and Jewish meditation and Sufism under Islam, came into existence as the practice reached different cultures.
Who brought it to the western world?
The birthplace of meditation is a great distance from the western world, yet the man known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought his own form, transcendental meditation, to the Americas in the 1950s.
Susan Shumsky, a former member of the Maharishi’s personal staff in the 1970s said “He was very charismatic. He had an amazing aura. Whenever you were with him you felt you were in a timeless place and that you were being lifted to a higher consciousness. Some skeptics might say it was all hypnotism. I believe there are people with higher consciousness, and I believe he was one of them.”
It is actually thanks to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that scientific study began on the practice to examine its benefits.
What is needed and how does it benefit children?
Traditionally, meditation is meant to help bring one peace and enlightenment through repeated practice. Thanks to the progress of time, other variations have been developed for different and specific effects.
Many people meditation atop a zafu, or round cushion, but there are no special items necessary to begin practicing with your child or children. Here are a couple of ways they can benefit from the act of meditating:
1. Enhanced Focus
Children and teenagers are known for having an obvious lack of focus, but that is part of growing up. Adults have the same problem when life gets so busy that multiple things demand their attention at once.
Practicing meditation with your child can help them focus and let them know that “it’s possible to direct their attention at one thing at a time, and that it actually feels great not to be distracted.”
2. Increase Self-Awareness
To be self-aware is to have “a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions.”
Helping a child exercise meditative techniques can help them sort out their jumbled thoughts and make senses of the things they are feeling. Growing up can be very trying for children, and meditation can help children avoid being overwhelmed by thoughts and emotions.
It can help bring awareness to how they present themselves to others and how others perceive them as well.
3. Becoming Grounded and Calmer
Many people who go through anger management are sometimes referred to meditation to help quell those feelings. Meditation can help your child figure out where their negative feelings stem from.
It will allow them to be more conscious of the level of emotion they project and help them stay level-headed in situations that could trigger extreme changes in emotion.
Many people believe that abandoning a project for a short time can help a person develop new ideas, the distance giving them time to de-stress and look at things as a whole. Others have suggested that simple meditation provides a greater benefit for inspiration. When your child is tasked with studying a specific subject, such as times tables, meditation can help your child maintain a better recall for the information.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects people all over the world, making it hard to get a decent night’s rest. For others, insomnia makes it nearly impossible to get any sleep. Meditation can help sort out the overwhelming stimuli of a busy day. Like getting home after a long shift at work, even children come home stressed after school. That stress can lead to having trouble getting them to bed at night.
Practice meditation and see how cleaning up mental clutter can help you and your children.
Have you practiced meditation? What form are you most familiar with? In what ways has it helped you?