Practicing mindfulness can help anyone to become more aware of their body, mind and environment. It also helps develop concentration and learn about the spiritual values in life. We encourage young people to learn the practice of mindfulness from an early age.
Meditation is becoming a subject more and more associated with children so much so that the experts sometimes ask adults to meditate like children. The mind of a child is presumably pure and much less complicated than an adult’s which should ideally make it easier for them to concentrate. However, the mind of the modern child could be far different from this notion that we often hear of them being victims of a variety of mental illnesses. Caught up in the extremely fast paced life styles of the modern world, today’s children seem to have lost the ability to still their minds, relax and enjoy the beauty of a butterfly or the melody of bird song. This restlessness of children has proven to have detrimental effects on their overall wellbeing.
Mindfulness meditation has been well recognized as an integral part of children’s education and it is already being successfully practised in many countries worldwide. Research shows that regular practice of mindfulness rewards children with great attentional focus, faster information processing ability, positive emotions, reduced anxiety, stress and depression, creativity and cognitive flexibility. Apart from these immediate benefits, moulding young minds means creating individuals who would nurture positive values and wholesome attitudes throughout their lives and continue to spread these around as change agents in the future society.
The concept of the programme Mindfulness for Kids was born with the sincere wish to help today’s children learn how to focus their attention and now Vishva Niketan hosts Mindfulness Workshops for kids on a regular basis. These are tailored to suit the children who are between 6-12 years including games and exercises that cultivate many mindfulness-promoting skills and values such as:
- Sitting and walking meditation to improve concentration,
- Interactive games to learn to work together,
- Mindful eating to use the senses,
- Guided Metta meditation and nature exercises to cultivate loving kindness towards all beings,
- Drawing and writing exercises to reflect on the spiritual values in life, and
- Gentle yoga exercises to improve bodily awareness
This programme has successfully tackled the challenge of calming down the racing minds of beautiful, vivacious children and teaching them how to take soothing breaks from their busy lives while being aware of their own selves. Parents’ positive feedback has been encouraging and we continue to see new faces among the regular ones in each workshop.
Children have open, curious minds that allow them to learn quickly. Therefore, teaching them about mindfulness and spiritual values at a young age can help them reap its benefits for the rest of their lives.