Research - The Importance of Meditation for Children
by Bonnie Russell
Meditation is one of those things we all know we should be doing every day (like flossing!) but if the habit isn’t started when we’re young, it becomes really hard to begin as an adult.
Anyone who has a regular meditation habit can tell you that it is the single most important thing they do for themselves to handle the daily stress that comes with living. In a world full of childhood depression, anxiety, cutting, drug abuse and suicide, it is vital for children to have the ability to self soothe, unwind and recharge their batteries.
I read this story once, and I share it with my meditation students regularly:
“A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
When we meditate, we are putting the glass down.”
There are several methods of meditation, but the easiest one for children, and really for all beginners, is guided meditation.
Guided meditation is used to consciously align with peaceful energies. To do this, we focus our meditation on the specific things in our lives that are robbing us of peace, with the purpose of bringing ourselves into harmony with them.
Meditate for Mental Health
For example, if you need to have a serious conversation, and it’s making you nervous, meditate on the situation by imagining the person sitting across from you. When you feel their presence, have the stressful conversation with them here, in the ethers. Stay with it until you feel a resolution and can shake hands with them or even hug. Doing this takes a heavy layer of stress off your shoulders and makes the actual conversation a breeze. Children are geniuses at pretending and they are great at this kind of meditation. They also have a very real need for exercises like this, as they must deal with bullies and overbearing teachers.
Meditation may not completely eliminate the causes of stress or discomfort, but it will change the way we think about stressful and uncomfortable things. We meditate to transcend suffering by shifting our perspective from being a victim, to being a person of power. This shifts the importance we place on discomfort by enabling us to create a healthy relationship with everyday things. It allows us to disengage from the cognitive & emotional stressors and activates our higher, peaceful mind.
Meditate for Physical Health
Thoughts have energy, and that energy affects the physical body. When we have appreciative thoughts about ourselves, we create health, and conversely, when we focus on the things we dislike about ourselves, we are essentially inviting those things to continue to decline.
Meditation consciously bridges the gap between the physical particles of the body; the cells that can be seen under a microscope, and the spiritual, energetic body, which is the intelligence that binds those particles together. It creates the connection between the mind and the body. It is in this space that we actually, literally, create the physical body that we inhabit.
When dealing with a specific illness, meditate on the condition by sending your awareness into the body. Look at the organs or tissues that are affected by the malady, and send them love and light. If you perceive any disharmony in the cells, or see any darkness to indicate illness, visualize your white blood cells multiplying and going to work on removing the darkness. See them simply coming through the area and taking the darkness with them to be excreted as waste. When everything seems clean and healthy again, surround the area with protective White Light to ‘seal’ the work you’ve just done. Then smile broadly, with your whole face, signaling to your body that all is well.
Calm Scene Meditation
Choose a time and place when you are not likely to be disturbed. Turn off your phone. If you like, you can put on a selection of meditation music and light some incense. These things will become triggers, or helpful tools that set the tone for easy meditation sessions in the future.
Have your child get comfortable in a favorite chair, legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor, hands in their lap, with their eyes closed.
Read this to your child, slowly, and in a calm, soothing voice:
“Take a nice, deep breath. Let it out.
Another nice, big inhale… and blow it out.
One more nice, big cleansing breath… and as you release it, feel the weight of your body sink into the chair.
Imagine a door in front of you.
Open the door and you walk outside into a lovely green pasture. There is a shimmering lake in the distance with a big, full, mature weeping willow tree on the shore.
To your left is a grove of trees that extends back and around the back of the lake. Slowly make your way to the weeping willow tree. Feel the soft grass on your feet,… smell the fresh spring air,… the blossoms in the pasture. See the swans glide across the glassy surface of the lake.
You’re in paradise,… your own personal Calm Scene. Your loose, comfortable clothing swirls lightly around your ankles in the gentle warm breeze, while the sun kisses your upturned face.
When you reach the majestic willow tree, make your way around to the far side of it so you are between the tree and the lake. Find a comfortable place to sit among the roots,… maybe you can lean back against the tree. Take in the sights and sounds of the lake and the trees,… the birds… the butterflies.
In this beautiful, peaceful place, you can find the answers to all of your questions. You’re completely safe and relaxed.
Focus now on a question that you need to have answered, or you may simply allow your mind to be open to any messages from your sub-conscious.
When you feel complete, it is time to return to waking consciousness, so begin to slowly make your way back to the door. Stand up… feel the warmth of the sun on your skin,… smile,… and breathe in the fresh, spring air. Come back inside.
Breathe deeply and begin to stretch a little… wiggle your fingers and toes… take another breath and slowly bring yourself back,… One more deep inhale, gently blink your eyes open and stretch as if you just woke up.”
Discuss and write down the details of the session.
It is a widely held belief that if the children of the world were all taught to meditate regularly, we would achieve world peace in just one generation.
About the Author
Bonnie is a Holistic Health Practitioner, nationally board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, a Doctor of Shamanistic Theology and a Master Herbalist. These degrees fully encompass the fields of herbs, vitamins, and nutrition, as well as spiritual and emotional health. Additionally, she is an ACE certified Personal Trainer and a SCW certified Yoga Instructor.
It is her goal to bridge the gap between physical health and spiritual connection for her clients. As a speaker and teacher and in private practice since 1998, she explains the link between these subjects in her book, “Spirit Flight, Claim Your Joy and Your Health Will Follow” and in her course, “Medical Intuition, Becoming your own Shaman”.