In my experience of teaching meditation (sometimes called mindfulness) I’ve noticed over the years how it’s become a popular way to help adults and children reduce the symptoms of stress and support a healthier lifestyle.
From teaching, I already knew how effective meditation was for kids, but I asked myself “could children, with additional support needs, learn meditation? Can young people with autism or ADHD benefit from mindful activities?”
Well let me assure you – yes they can. Most important of all, you are more than capable of teaching them this life skill.
Since 2003, I have been guiding adults in how to teach children and teens meditation. From this experience I have witnessed many of the benefits associated with meditation (improved focus/concentration, self regulation, improved sleep patterns and emotional intelligence) are available to children with special needs.
I initially had the idea back in 2003 that we should be teaching our kids meditation and mindfulness.
Back then… there was very little in the way of resources that people could find to help them teach kids and teens mindful meditation practices.
How the landscape has changed (thank goodness!)
Today we see meditation and mindfulness being incorporated into many areas of a child’s life. These essential life skills will help them process increasing amounts of stress that we place on their small shoulders (diet, technology, lifestyle). I’m glad that people are waking up to the idea of teaching their kids meditation – in my view it is as important as teaching them to brush their teeth!
(Guest blog written by one of our Connected Kids Level 1 Students from Denmark…)
Many children with ADHD have difficulty falling asleep at night, and parents of children with ADHD often see that their children rarely seem to be rested when it is time to go to school.
When children go to school or kindergarten feeling tired, it means that their internal battery is not fully charged. They get into conflict more easily, find it harder to stay focused, and their emotions are unstable because of a poor night’s sleep.
Maybe it’s a combination of technology, lifestyle and the way our brains are developing. Reading the book ‘Mind Change‘ has been fascinating as I learn I am a ‘digital immigrant’. That means I have been introduced to blogs, emails and the tech stuff later in my lifetime.
According to the author, Baronness Susan Greenfieldkids are ‘digital natives’ – in other words their brains are introduced to it from the day they are born and it is shaping how their brains develop.
They are one of the most effective ways to teach children mindfulness skills while they meditate.
The idea behind mandalas in Buddhist practices is to create the mandala out of coloured sand while paying attention to thoughts, body, breath and emotions. Then when complete, the mandalas are released to symbolise impermanence and non-attachment.
However we can use paper mandalas just as effectively with young people.
If you find it difficult to get your kids to sit still and meditate in the way you think they should, then you need to change the way you think about meditation. Mandalas can help you do this.