Children and adolescents encounter stress at home and at school—just as adults do in jobs and relationships. Many professionals believe we’re seeing an epidemic of adolescent depression, driven by stress, with the average onset of depression appearing as early as age 14.
Stress not only interferes with learning but also places young people at increased vulnerability to drugs or alcohol. Research shows that the Transcendental Meditation technique is a powerful stress buster—and it works for children as well adults.
Easy meditation for children
The Transcendental Meditation technique is easy for children to practice because it does not require controlled focus or concentration, and children can practice it without having to sit perfectly still. Even children with ADHD can practice this meditation successfully.
Because the TM program is validated by hundreds of scientific research studies, parents and educators can feel confident that the program is safe and reliable. It’s well established that the TM program can help children cope with stress and improve learning ability and behavior. Over 150,000 school children around the world have learned the TM technique in the past 3 years alone, and the program has been successfully used in the classroom for 40 years.
Meditation and the brain
Science has looked at what happens in the brain during the TM technique. Daily practice produces a healthy state of coherence and balance throughout the brain, with increased activation of the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for discrimination and higher reasoning. This type of more orderly brain functioning is not found while a child is studying, playing, watching TV or listening to music; nor does this balanced, holistic brain functioning come about through other types of relaxation or meditation exercises, such as mindfulness, watching the breath, visualizing, or guided imagination—all such activities activate specific areas of the brain but have not been found to increase EEG coherence.
Everything good about your child’s brain depends on coherent and orderly brain functioning. Higher EEG coherence is associated with sharper focus and comprehension, improved learning ability, heightened intelligence and creativity and better moral reasoning.
Practice of the TM technique for 10 minutes twice daily not only stimulates brain development and learning ability in children, but also provides natural relief from stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Reducing stress and increasing inner happiness improves a child’s flexibility, social abilities and self-esteem. Children, who naturally find self-approval from within, rather than seeking it mostly from the outside, are less influenced by peer pressure and make better decisions.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is a valuable tool for a child as she matures, preparing her to meet the stresses and challenges of adolescence and adulthood.
Meditate with your children
Children benefit most from meditation when their parents are also meditating. A family that meditates together typically finds that their home life grows more harmonious and blissful. There’s more time for nourishing interactions when stress is released during meditation, instead of through outbursts and arguments. What would be better for your children: zoning out in front of the TV, or a few minutes of daily meditation?
At what age can a child learn to meditate?
Parents may wonder: What age is it appropriate for my child to learn meditation? What type of meditation is most beneficial for children?
Because very young children are still integrating their inner world with the outer world around them, they need a meditation practice that does not require them to sit still or that inhibits their natural inclination to know and discover.
What is the best time in a child’s development to sit and practice eyes-closed meditation? According to the timeless tradition of meditation that gave us the Transcendental Meditation technique, no sooner than ten years of age. Starting with just a few minutes morning and afternoon, children ten and older find the sit-down, eyes-closed practice of the TM technique effortless and enjoyable, something they can do on their own or with meditating friends or family members.
Children under 10 receive a practice appropriate for the developmental stages of early childhood, the Maharishi Word of Wisdom Technique. At five years of age, children can learn this eyes-open, “walking” meditation. In some cases, children as young as age three to four can learn. This practice strengthens the mind and helps stabilize the emotions of the young child—nourishing her inner being in a gentle, holistic way. The technique is practiced a few minutes each day with eyes open, while the child is quietly engaged in easy, natural activities such as walking or coloring. The child grows in stability in relation to the outer world and does not become introverted or withdrawn—as may occur through use of an adult meditation practice that would be unnatural for them.
Within one school year, elementary school students who practiced TM showed significant gains on a nationally standardized test of basic skills. Education107: 49-54, 1986.
Adolescent who learned TM, compared to control, showed decreased absenteeism, school rule infractions, and suspension days. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1: 10, 2003.
The TM technique is one of the most important techniques to unfold the full potential of the individual, and to activate the body’s healing power. By enlivening nature’s intelligence, it allows children and parents alike to live a more healthy life.Kumuda Reddy, M.D.