Studies have shown that meditation has many benefits including reducing stress, improving sleep and decreasing blood pressure. But it can be daunting to start a meditation routine in a world filled with endless deadlines and constant connections. That’s why some meditation instructors encourage parents and teachers to start the practice from a young age. Not only will children be able to make mindfulness part of their daily lives, but it’s also been proven to reduce anxiety and increase attention in school. However, the thought of getting a kid to meditate is intimidating.
So, SI Swimsuit tapped composer and meditation expert Murray Hidary of MindTravel to find out how to help youngsters find their zen and answer some burning questions parents might have.
Can you get children to meditate?
“In a way, children are in a constant state of meditation. Up to about seven years old, their young brains are predominantly generating Theta and Alpha brain wave cycles. These are the same brain wave states that adults (usually in Beta frequency) achieve during meditation. This allows children to be in a constant open learning state as they take in a new world and formulate their understanding of the world around them.”
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Why is it important to have children meditate?
“Giving a child the skill to self-regulate their mood and state is a gift that can’t be overstated for both the child and parent. Children experience stress just like adults, and mindfulness gives them a healthy way to deal with it. From challenges that the pandemic poses to education to fear of climate change, kids are feeling it, whether they voice it or not. So let’s give them the tools to not only cope but thrive during this complicated time.”
What age should you start?
“Kids of all ages can experience meditation, and it is never too early to start. I’ve meditated with kids of all ages, from kindergarteners to teenagers. And even infants can benefit from meditation with a parent. Their highly open and suggestive state (being in Delta brain wave patterns from birth to age 2) means that the experience pattern is being absorbed on some level, making future meditation much more likely to feel natural to them. Depending on the age, keep the experience to a timeframe that suits them. Sometimes less is more. Even a few minutes can make all the difference.”
What are your top tips for getting a child to meditate?
“To get children to meditate, make it fun. Meditation can include drawing, coloring, building, writing, walking and many other creative approaches. I even offer a free children’s meditation coloring book that will help lay foundational meditation principles. The most important element is that the experience, whatever it is, involves paying attention, on purpose, and without judgment.”