The benefits of meditation on children

Posted by on Feb 19, 2017 in Meditation | 0 comments

The benefits of meditation on children

In September 2016 an elementary school in West Baltimore, became the topic of much discussion on the internet, because of their very interesting approach to “punishment”.

Children who misbehave are sent to a “Mindful Moment Room” for detention. Once there, they have to practice breathing and meditation techniques which help them re-center and calm down.

Consequently, the school reported in the same year, that there had been no suspensions.

A different view on punishment

The same school, Robert W. Coleman Elementary, has partnered with a local non-profit organization called the Holistic Life Foundation. They now also offer the students yoga classes, mentoring, tutoring and valuable lessons about the environment.

They have established vegetable gardens, cleaned up parks and visited nearby farms to learn more. In all of these activities, children are learning very valuable life skills, like:

  • self-control,
  • empathy,
  • self-sufficiency,
  • neighborliness and
  • how to be an upstanding citizen in general.

What effect does meditation have on children?

The benefits that meditation and mindfulness can have on your children’s behavior, stress levels, health and over-all well being are many. Let’s examine a few in detail.

Brain enhancement

Research has shown that practicing meditation can prompt changes in a part of your brain called the amygdala. This is the part associated with the processing of emotions. These brain changes can persist even after the meditation session has ended which leads to lasting changes in mental function.

Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital researchers published a breakthrough study in 2011. The study showed that daily guided meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction led to measurable changes in the brain, after just eight weeks of practice.

The hippocampus, responsible for memory, compassion and learning, showed denser gray matter than scans taken before meditation began. Remarkably, the amygdala,  the center for stress and anxiety, showed a shrinkage in gray matter.

But what does meditation and practicing mindfulness mean for our children? Improvement in general concentration and social skills, as well as self-control and participation in activities.

Combat stress

Meditation does combat stress! Just eight weeks of daily meditation produced a reduction in gray matter of the amygdala, where stress and anxiety originate.

Children today are exposed to much higher levels of stress than in the past, and the only way they can relieve the anxiety they feel, is by acting out.

Enter meditation

Children who misbehave are guided through breathing exercises that teach them to be present. With mindfulness of their physical self, they calm down and are then made to talk about their feelings.

The result?

Mindful, thoughtful and compassionate children who have self-control and are able to cope with modern day stresses.

Healthy lifestyle

Meditation is helpful for improving healthy and sustainable weight loss, emotional control, appetite regulation and behavior adjustments to lower the risk of obesity and emotional binge eating.

In America, obesity in children is a huge problem. Meditating, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, can teach children the self-reliance and self-discipline needed to beat childhood obesity, and the risks that come with it.

Andres Gonzalez from Baltimore Elementary School said, “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.’”

What a wonderful effect this simple, yet highly beneficial technique is having on the lives of these youngsters, and even their parents.

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