While you might not be overly confident in your children’s ability to sit still and be quiet for extended periods of time, that’s no reason to rule out meditation before they’ve had a chance to try it. After all, spending time meditating together as a family is a great way to improve the mental and physical well-being of both you and your loved ones. Not only are the benefits of meditation supported by scientific research, but there also plenty of things you can do to make meditation fun and accessible for your whole family.
The benefits of meditation
A study carried out by researchers from Dalian University of Technology in China, found that those participants who meditated for just 20 minutes a day five days a week, had “measurably less anxiety and levels of the stress hormone cortisol” than those that didn’t. The results also showed that levels of depression, anger and fatigue in the participants had lowered as well.
Another study by the University of Washington found that meditation training helped people concentrate better, experience fewer negative emotions and it improved their memory “for the details of their work”.
Increased concentration and the ability to remember more will naturally come in very handy both in and outside the home, while the the ability to feel fewer negative moods will likely go a long way towards producing a healthier, happier home for both you and your family.
While it is of course healthy and normal to experience negative moods from time to time, persistent anger can affect a person’s cardiovascular health, while chronic stress can cause a variety of problems ranging from muscle pain to stomach ulcers. This is why it’s very important to both find and pass on to our children effective coping methods for dealing negative moods. And for many, meditation offers just that.
How to help your children meditate
According to meditation training specialists, The Art of Meditation, “meditation is not a science, but a profound experiential journey”, and as such, it really shouldn’t be forced. However there are gentle ways to help and encourage our children to meditate.
If your children easily become restless when they’re asked to sit still, you might try simply letting them be with you while you meditate. Since most children are social learners, they may decide to sit and copy you of their own volition. Music can also help children to focus, especially if they have difficulty sitting still and completing tasks in silence.
You might also consider starting your children on short, five-minute meditation sessions, then moving into ten-minute sessions, and so on, until they are able to meditate for extended periods of time. Teach them that when distractions occur – such as the dog barking or the phone ringing – that they shouldn’t fight those distractions but rather invite them into their meditation. By embracing distractions, they may then be able to sit or lay down for longer periods of time.
But most importantly, don’t give up! Even after watching you for a while, they may still decide not to join you in meditation. Or, as is often the case with little ones when they try new things, they might attempt it once but then promptly decide for whatever reason that they hate it and that they never want to meditate ever again. As a parent, you shouldn’t let this interfere your meditation routine. Eventually your children may decide to try again and if they do, you will be ready to show them how it’s done.