I work with children in schools running mindfulness classes and I am delighted to see that more schools are using mindfulness and meditation to help children relax, focus and feel more peaceful. Children are much more open to meditation than us adults, they are wiser in a lot of ways and I rarely have a child that is not willing to practise meditation.
When we practise mindfulness we sit with our eyes closed, although some do prefer to keep their eyes open and just have a soft gaze looking downwards. First of all I guide them through a beautiful relaxation technique which helps to let go of any tension in the body, so that they are really comfortable. When the children have calmed down and are nice and relaxed they are in a good state to practise mindfulness. There may be a specific thing that the teacher may have asked me to focus on for that lesson. For instance, we may practise techniques to reduce anger, how to let go of anger and control our temper much better. Children say that they do really notice a difference in how they behave with their friends and siblings. Parents notice the difference too and say that they can tell when their child has been practising as they are much more peaceful, have a better attitude and are just generally nicer.
One particular class that I was sent to work with was apparently a very troublesome class and I did think I would have my work cut out with them. The teacher was really getting quite fed up with the whole class and certainly eager to give my sessions a go. The sessions went very well indeed. All of the children were quiet and still and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the peace and calm. Over a few weeks the children reported back to me about their home practices and the results were astonishing. The teacher actually came in to one of the sessions because she was intrigued to see what I was actually doing with the children to be getting such good results. She said the children were much calmer in class and a lot less aggressive with one another. Their attention in class had also improved a lot.
With the constant stimulation that children face today from their mobile phones and computer games, there is a massive lack of time to just sit and be peaceful. The constant chatter never stops and there is no rest for the minds of our children. This is quite a serious problem and I am always disappointed when I ask the children about their sleep. Most of the children in class will hold their hand up when I ask them who has trouble sleeping. As well as sleep being one of the things that are affected by constant stimulation, behavioural problems, ADHD and anxiety and depression are amongst the many other symptoms of modern life.
I love to teach these children skills that are incredibly value. I especially love it when they tell me that they teach their families. They may sit to practise mindfulness with a parent if they are tense or anxious. They may help a younger brother or sister to fall asleep with some lovely relaxation techniques. A parent with a bad back will find relief when their child guides them through a session of deep relaxation and mindfulness.
It is amazing that they are able to pass on the wonderful gift of practising mindfulness and I feel privileged to be able to work with young people and help it become more and more popular.