Teach children how to nurture and nourish positive thoughts with simple but profound mindfulness techniques and help them bring more joy and success into their lives.

MEDITATION is a simple and very powerful way of teaching and encouraging children how to be happy, successful, kind and compassionate. After all, as many great teachers have told us, we become what we think about.

Successful people in all areas of life are practicing meditation, from movie stars such as Hugh Jackman and pop stars such as Katy Perry to elite athletes. The top AFL teams in Australia practice it. Google even created an international training course in it. Why? Because of the peaceful joy it brings, and the ability to access a deeper space of happiness within.

Meditation has many benefits for the adult brain and the same is true for kids. Taught in an age-appropriate way, children will learn how to develop the same access to internal peace, stillness, happiness and focus. One seven-year-old girl described meditation like her “secret doorway to calm and happy”.

Classrooms throughout Australia are changing because teachers are introducing simple mindfulness techniques. The effect of just five minutes of meditation and reflection is instilling a sense of calm, focus and concentration in children that many are experiencing for the first time.

This is a gift for children and teens growing up in a world of stress and anxiety, where there is pressure to succeed and where minds are racing and levels of mental health issues have never been more prominent. There is an emphasis on doing well out in the world, with little focus on children’s inner worlds. But when children are taught how to access their inner worlds, to quiet their minds and still their thoughts, to interact and think from a place of stillness, they can learn how to live calmer and happier lives.

In the words of Russell Simmons, “You give every kid happiness when you give them meditation.” Science has shown us that meditation changes your brain, that it reduces stress and brings increased levels of happiness. In every children’s yoga class I teach, I witness this in action as worries and tension melt from children’s faces. But meditation brings more benefits than that. It helps us to tap into our intelligence system and increases focus, concentration and awareness — unlocking infinite potential.

The analogy of the mind as fertile soil is a powerful one: plant weeds and they grow, plant seeds and they grow. Teaching children that their minds are powerful and will produce the results of what they plant is an important lesson that can impact their life in a big way. Focusing on success instead of failure plants the seeds of success, focusing on happy thoughts and things that bring joy grows happiness, switching from thoughts of what is wrong to being grateful leads to positivity and peace. Earl Nightingale famously said, “Whatever you focus your mind on, you become”.

How we teach this to children is firstly to encourage them to become aware of their thoughts, and then to create space in the mind by quieting the chatter, and finally to plant the new, positive thought seeds that they would like to grow.

Start this simple, but profoundly effective meditation practice with your children and help them develop a strong mind, positive behaviours and habits that will lead to happy, joy-filled and successful lives.

STEP ONE:

Finding a quiet place to sit, say to your child, “Close your eyes and take a big breath into your tummy and a big breath out.” Repeat this three times. Then say, “Notice how your mind is. Is it busy with lots of thoughts or is it quiet? Is your mind saying positive things or negative things?” Then let them know that whatever is happening is perfectly normal and that the mind wanders around from thought to thought, subject to subject.

STEP TWO:

Once they have become aware of how the mind is, and have started to build separation from their thoughts by watching their thoughts, it is time to still the mind. Say to your child, “Imagine all your thoughts being picked up by a cloud and drifting away, clearing an open sky in your mind that is completely cloudless.” They continue this practice for a few minutes and as a thought comes in, a cloud carries it away.

STEP THREE:

Lastly, it’s time to seed the positive thoughts and qualities that will become the focus. Say to your child, “Think of one word for how you would like to feel or be for the day and repeat it three times.” If an exam is coming up, they could visualise a positive outcome or choose a word for that event.

Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Teaching children how to access the power of their minds and making that a daily action and practice has the potential to set them up for a life of fulfillment and success.

 

Yoga Journal: Aug/Sept 2017 – issue 61