Do you associate moments of “not-doing” with boredom? I sure did until I learned how to meditate… Think of sitting quietly, alone in a room for just 15 minutes: No TV, no computer, no smartphone, no books, no magazines, no music… not even knitting needles. If you’re like most, this probably sounds like a recipe for complete boredom or a complete waste of time. In our fast paced world where “doing” is revered and the mind is “in charge” 24/7, we avoid such moments of “not-doing” because we don’t associate it – or the boredom that ensues - with having any value. Now that we know that just 15 minutes a day of “not doing” and meditating has so many widespread benefits including “higher levels of well-being and increased resilience” as Neuroscientist, Dr. Richard Davidson says in his article below, by not setting the example that our attention is a skill that needs to be cultivated, what’s the message we’re sending our kids?
Aside from the higher levels of well-being and increased resilience, meditation also grows the part of the brain that makes you feel good (optimistic, compassionate and full of possibility) and shrinks the part that makes you feel bad (depressed, anxious, pessimistic and fearful). Pope Benedict XVI recently approved meditation instruction throughout the Catholic School Board because, well… he knows it works, and it makes for better little people that will grow up into better big people. Guess he agreed with the Dalai Lama who said, "If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world in one generation." Now how great is that?
Dr. Davidson, who was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2006 said in an interview that “It’s [meditation] is so widely popular and successful, the district wants us to scale it up the entire [Madison] school system”.
Davidson was inspired by a meeting with the Dalai Lama in 1992 to research areas like kindness and compassion, and heads up several laboratories at the University of Wisconsin including the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.
Here’s what he had to say about teaching kids to meditate… Let’s all get meditating ourselves and set the right example for our kids – and teach them the value of cultivating their attention through meditation so they, and we, have a chance at eliminating violence from the world completely within a generation, and gain a significant advantage in world where “not doing” will just not do any more.
The photo is from Meditation Class at St. Paul's Primary School in Tilehurst, Reading, UK.
Please read on…
by Renata Duma, Founder, MEDITATIONWORKSforSTRESS.com
Neuroscientist touts benefits of meditation for kids
By GORDON HOEKSTRA, Vancouver Sun February 16, 2012
Simple meditation techniques, backed up with modern scientific knowledge of the brain, are helping kids hard-wire themselves to be able to better pay attention and become kinder, says neuroscientist Richard Davidson.
Davidson — who will speak at the University of B.C. on Friday at noon on his new co-authored book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain — has put his research into practice at elementary schools in Madison, Wis.
About 200 students at four elementary schools have used breathing techniques to hard-wire their brains to improve their ability to focus on their work.
“It’s so widely popular and successful, the district wants us to scale it up the entire [Madison] school system,” said Davidson in an interview.
Davidson, who was inspired by a meeting with the Dalai Lama in 1992 to research areas like kindness and compassion, heads up several laboratories at the University of Wisconsin including the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.
In 2006, Davidson was named on of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people.
Davidson said research has shown why the brain’s circuitry is important in governing a person’s resilience to stress.
Research has also shown the brain is elastic, that it can be shaped by experience and behaviour.
Research, including brain imaging studies, also shows it is possible to cultivate the mind to change brain function and structure in ways that will promote higher levels of well-being and increased resilience, said Davidson.
His research is outlined in dozens of articles in scientific journals.
The techniques used with elementary school children are quite simple.
To improve a child’s ability to pay attention — and also improve their studying abilities — a stone is put on a child’s belly, and they learn to focus on their breathing as the stone goes up and down.
The technique can be taught to children as young as four years old, said Davidson.
“A simple anchor like one’s breath is a centuries-old meditation technique, but it turns out to have some very beneficial qualities in terms of changes in both the brain and behaviour,” he said.
To foster kindness in teenagers, students are asked to visualize a loved one suffering followed by a thought that they be relieved of that suffering.
This is extended to difficult people as well, said Davidson.
This exercise has also been shown to produce meaningful changes in the brain and behaviour, he said.
Elementary schools in Vancouver have also embraced these meditation techniques as part of a program called MindUp that teaches children that it is hard to concentrate when the brain is stressed.
More than 1,000 teachers have trained in the program at the Vancouver school board, and the district has received requests from other school districts, including in Yukon, to teach the program.
“The interest continues to be there,” said Lisa Pedrini, the Vancouver school board’s manager of social responsibility.
MEDITATIONWORKSforSTRESS.com… Get meditating and get H A P P Y now. :)