Why your children should learn to meditate

Meditation is good for the brain, says neurologist Steven Laureys in his latest book on this discipline that fascinates him. But it’s also great for children, who benefit from learning to meditate from an early age.

A sign of the times, during the repeated confinements that have spanned the past two years, among those who could cynically be described as winners of the health crisis, we find Moshi, Dreamy Kid or even Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street. These are just a few of the applications dedicated to teaching meditation and meditation techniques to children. A concept that can make parents smile, or even laugh out loud, who already have a hard time keeping their offspring in place for mealtimes, and yet there is no shortage of benefits. In particular, on the ability of your mini-humans to remain (relatively) calm during the aforementioned meals, but not only.

Burnout from kindergarten

Herself a mother of two children aged 5 and 2, Nina and Lou, Kim Ngân Tran is preparing to open the Willow studio in Brussels after a first career as a management engineer. Coming to a daily practice of yoga and meditation six years ago, and convinced of the need for these tools to lead a balanced life, she decided to reorient herself towards their teaching, with a specialization in the transmission of their learning to children.

“I have been giving yoga and mindfulness classes for several months to children enrolled in the homework school in the municipality of Ixelles, explains Kim, and I have been able to see how much the lessons have enabled them to put words to the things that inhabit them, be they thoughts, emotions or bodily sensations. Meditation also brings them a space of calm where they are not asked to do but to be”. A much-needed mental recalibration: “in our current world, there are many injunctions to do and this has a huge impact on the stress level of children. I was really surprised to see that many of them express permanent fatigue. Crazy to think that already at 5 years old, a child already feels tired all the time, right? How to deal with the many years to come? Teaching them to recognize how they feel, inviting them to express this and identifying their inner resources are all things that will help them through the trials of their lives. And meditation is the fantastic tool for that”.

We go into meditation as a family © Getty Images

Conscious Childhood

Moreover, at home, the one who was introduced to yoga by her husband Michael sees the benefits on her daughters on a daily basis: “these practices already allow them to have fun, which is the most important thing for a child. They also allow them to develop their attention, the awareness of their breathing and to express their emotions and their feelings in a natural way”. What better to understand why children represent a growing market for the well-being sector. In the summer of 2021, Petit Bambou, one of the market leaders in meditation applications, launched various programs, designed for children aged 4 to 7, 5 to 12 or even for teenagers. For the little ones, the program includes 12 sessions that take children on a journey with a story in the form of a video introduction and an experiment in a meditation practice linked to the story, whose themes range from attention to oneself (to the body, to the 5 senses, to the breath, to the emotions) to that granted to the happiness of everyday life (gratitude) and to others (benevolence).

“You have to know how to distinguish between mindfulness and meditation. A practice of mindfulness will allow us to develop an attention to what is present, to our thoughts, our emotions and our sensations. Meditation will develop an understanding of these thoughts, emotions and sensations and requires further practice. With children, we will rather try to develop an attitude of mindfulness because before understanding their thoughts, emotions and sensations, they must first learn to identify and express them” deciphers Kim. Hence the strategy adopted by Petit Bambou for its youngest users: “before four years old, children rarely have enough vocabulary and awareness of their body and mind to practice meditation. We will work on the development of essential qualities such as benevolence, patience and self-compassion” explains the co-founder of the Willow studio. Who further adds that “if a child does not ‘stay still’, the aim will therefore not be to calm him down but to give him the necessary tools so that he himself realizes that he is not staying still. And afterwards, it is up to him to decide what he does with this information”. Suspense, therefore, as to the effects of this practice on the atmosphere of family meals. But even if Junior will not necessarily be more static, the benefits of learning meditation from an early age are innumerable.

think differently

“The lessons will allow the youngest to have a gentle physical activity, to work on their psychomotricity and to stimulate their creativity and their imagination. From the age of 4, children are able to identify and verbalize the sensations in their body and we can begin to develop an awareness of breathing, an essential tool to stay grounded and find peace. From the age of 8, we can start working on the identification of thoughts and how to apprehend them. Understand that thoughts are not reality and that they are neither positive nor negative. There are simply thoughts that help us, and others that don’t. Being aware of this will be an extremely powerful tool in stress management for children,” says Kim. Who will open his brand new Willow studio in Ixelles at the beginning of 2023, and will provide his training before that in September in a temporary location. And in the meantime, there’s nothing like listening to our new summer podcast, “7 keys to meditation”, to introduce you to the practice of meditation alongside neurologist Steven Laureys, and to already pass on some precepts to your offspring. Because meditation, “it’s good for the brain”, whatever its age.

www.willow-studio.be / Find a new episode of our podcast every week.

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Why your children should learn to meditate

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