“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
We believe that one of the most powerful gifts you can give a child is the life-long skill of meditation. Our educational programmes in township schools include mindfulness practices, breathing exercises and yoga. Over the past seven years we have taught thousands of children and been truly inspired by the results.
However, one may ask, why focus on this when working in disadvantaged communities where many basic needs are not being met? Why not focus on feeding schemes or numeracy and literacy programmes? Many children living in the areas we work in, experience high levels of stress which leads to anxiety, depression, violence and substance abuse, as well as compromising their ability to focus and learn effectively. Meditation is a practical tool these children can use to overcome these adverse effects.
Meditation teaches children to connect with themselves and their inner source of calm, in a way that boosts confidence, helps to manage emotions, and cultivates self-awareness. It also helps them relax and focus better during school, which improves concentration and memory.
Many children have told us how they use these techniques when they feel sad, angry or afraid. Teachers have reported the changes they’ve observed such as reduced fighting in class, improved concentration and academic results, increased imagination and children taking on more leadership responsibilities. We’ve had past learners start meditation groups in their High Schools and even found children sitting at breaktime doing their breathing exercises and meditating together just for fun!
“When I do my meditation, it’s like I’m in another world with trees and birds and it’s peaceful. Then I open my eyes and realise I’m back at school!” Nwabisa, Grade 6
In today’s fast paced world, many children are overstimulated and experience high levels of stress and anxiety. Here is one example of a mindfulness meditation you can do with your child at home. This is a lovely practice to do in the garden with just the two of you, or a small group.
How to Meditate With Children
Sitting comfortably, ask everyone to close their eyes for one minute and to listen for as many different sounds as they can hear. (Minute passes) Slowly open your eyes and without talking, write down all the sounds you heard. Then you can each share your list and repeat the exercise listening out for the extra sounds you didn’t hear the first time. (If your child is not yet writing, you can just memorise the sounds and share with each other afterwards.)