Childhood Meditation - Cultivating Our Internal Garden From An Early Age
Meditation has a major positive impact on the wholesome growth and development of young children. It’s been proven that children who meditate get better grades in school. And this technique has multiple positive psychoeducational and emotional benefits and implications. On top of contributing to children’s well-being, it also improves their concentration, relaxation, creativity, and resilience.
Meditation enriches our lives in adulthood in many ways, not just on an emotional and psychological level, but also a physical one. Something similar happens with children, but it also comes with benefits in their ability to learn. Ultimately meditation is a kind of mental gymnastics or training, and practicing it will make it so the child’s attention span stays flexible. This will make it easier for them, for example, to pick up new knowledge or skills.
Why is meditation so important for children?
We’re living in the era of “overstimulation.” TV, internet, interactive games, schedules full of extracurricular activities, cell phones…All that stress has invaded children’s lives too. That’s why we shouldn’t forget that these young children have an immature nervous system. It’s hard for them to process a lot of stimuli all at one time.
Overstimulated children might start to have issues in the social realm, problems with language and motor skills, and difficulty concentrating, of course. These things can all lead to problems with learning or behavior in the future. But through meditation they can balance and make up for the negative effects of overstimulation.
Tronick and Gianino (1986) found that children are born with the ability to calm themselves down. In fact, babies do it a few times every minute. In this sense, meditation can help make it so children don’t lose and end up keeping their natural ability to calm down. It’s a crucial thing to hold onto when it comes to their emotional regulation, just as much now as in their future.
What is meditation?
Meditating means focusing your attention on something specific. This could be a thought, an object, an image, your own body, your thoughts, a visualization…
Meditation is very simple to do. You can start by focusing your attention on your posture, your breathing, and your attitude. This is because meditation is about giving your full attention and awareness to everything you are and everything you feel. That is, being conscious of what’s going on around you at every moment.
You can find different kinds of meditation-based activities that are great for practicing with young minds. They all have the same goal, to focus your attention on calming your mind and entering a different state of consciousness:
- Creative visualizations (whether based on sight, sound, touch, smell, or taste).
- Guided meditation.
- Activities geared specifically towards mindfulness.
- Practices that integrate mindfulness into daily life (learning to remain mindful in the tasks you go through during your day to day).
- Breathing control.
- Practices that work on bodily awareness by focusing your attention on different parts of your body.
- Mantra meditation (repeating sounds, syllables, words, or sentences, with the goal of improving your psychophysical state).
Conscious and proper breathing is the basic, fundamental tool for practicing meditation, especially to achieve states of deep attention and concentration.
Benefits of childhood meditation
Here we’ve compiled a long list of some of the benefits that meditation has for children, but there are probably many more:
- Helps them get to sleep, and makes the sleep restorative.
- Reduces and helps get rid of the anxieties and fears that are so common at those ages.
- Helps manage daily stress.
- Boosts creative thinking.
- Helps them control their frustration.
- Improves concentration.
- Bolsters the immune system.
- Boosts the speed of sensory and cognitive processing.
- Helps improve their self-image and self-esteem.
- Fosters control and gets rid of muscle pains or physical discomfort, which are usually part of this stage of constant growing.
- Enables self-confidence and self-security.
- Improves physical and emotional self-control and self-regulation, which helps them be less impulsive.
- Helps them process their emotions properly.
- Increases academic performance.
- Shows them to be more responsible. Not just with their material possessions but also with their emotions, lives, and happiness.
- Helps them connect to a state of peace that will foster non-violent attitudes when it comes to socializing.
- Helps to shape people who are more loving and more connected to their surroundings and to other people.
- Improves social skills. It boosts feelings of empathy and thankfulness.
- Helps them confront their daily frustrations and difficulties. Meditation fosters the development of their ability to accept the things that happen.
- Helps build the framework for a more stable maturity.
- Makes them feel happier, which improves their mood.
A lifelong gift…
Teaching a child how to meditate is a way of establishing a very special bond with them. It’s a bond that one day they’ll be able to establish with their own loved ones. Childhood is the time of learning, of imagination…and through meditation you can improve the mental capabilities of the youngest children.
By showing children how to meditate we’re setting up the foundations for a habit that will be useful to them their whole lives. In the same way, we can see teaching the youngest children to meditate as a way of helping future generations have a better sense of balance and awareness.