Improving children's happiness with mindfulness

I run mindfulness sessions with children and adults and especially enjoy working in schools. Feedback from the children and teachers is always really encouraging and we can see how, with regular practise, mindfulness really does work. Scientists and doctors are providing evidence which is great, to show the benefits of practising mindfulness and this gives credibility to what is an ancient common practice in the east. As we move away from our western dualistic approach to health and well-being, and take a more eastern holistic view, we are finding ways for each person to be their best.

I remember a little boy who had lots of anger issues and was very troubled by his feelings. He was quiet in class and always looked very serious, like he had all the troubles of the world on his shoulders. One day he came up to me at the end and told me that he now believed that it was possible for him to be happy. He previously thought that he would always feel sad and angry, but now he had seen for himself through the practice of mindfulness that happiness was possible and he had hope.

A teacher said to me that after our session the children would be more focused, pleasant and calm. We only ran one session per week and each day the effects would fade, so that by the end of the week things weren’t quite so peaceful. The benefits were very clear to see and the fact that regular practice is important was also outlined.

I helped children learn how to take these practices home with them and each week I would ask them how they had got on. Of course not all would practise, but quite a few did and loved to tell me all about how they had got on. Time and time again I heard how they had experienced feeling much more relaxed and how they could fall asleep much more easily when they had done a little relaxation breathing exercise/meditation. Another common report was being able to get on with everybody much better and when little brother or sister was annoying them, or mum or dad was shouting at them, they could let things go much more easily. Fallouts and bickering with friends was less common.

They found a lot of comfort in meditation at times of worry and upset. One little girl had a very poorly mum and I could see how much our sessions gave her much needed comfort. They used their practices to help ease a tummy ache or headache. Some children even ran little sessions at home with their families. One little boy said his dad, who was poorly, felt much better when he sat with him and practised meditation. Another boy said his dad’s diabetes was controlled better when he regularly practised! I even received a couple of lovely messages through the children from their parents, thanking me.

I have worked with children who have no aspirations or feelings of hope for the future. Doing well in life, getting a good job, having a comfortable life with nice things, which they thought was for other people. Meditation can help with this and help them to have much more positive thoughts about themselves, to view themselves as worthy and capable of achieving. They can start to believe that they are as good as anybody, but no better either. We are all worthy and deserve to be happy. This links in with the compassion meditations and these are, in my opinion, the most important of all. They give the feelings of comfort and warmth to ourselves and to others and the knock on effect is both gentle and powerful.

I believe that the view of mindfulness and meditation is changing from that of something that is for hippies, to something that there is clearly a huge gap for in a world that seems to be becoming more and more stressful for our young ones.

Peaceful young ones will grow in to peaceful adults and they will create a peaceful society.