|(photo by Tibor Fazakas; used with permission)|
I touted mindfulness mediation almost a year ago when I wrote: "Meditation ... not just for the woo-woo hippies anymore." I knew it was a good thing for me to be doing. I had read the stuff and knew the studies. I did it for me. All that time I knew if it was good for me, it would be good for my kids. I thought that. I didn't do anything about it. Until February.
One of my children worked with me and their therapist, and took a one-month challenge to meditate and list gratitudes every day. We saw a definite change in their ability to self-regulate and an improvement in their sleep. They also started to enjoy meditation, and then led their own group on Facebook for the month of March.
And I knew. I knew I needed to add it to the day of another child. This kid has struggled deeply and greatly over the last few years. We started a treatment plan that included medication and play therapy. We continued with good diet and sleep habits. Yet, there were still some definite daily struggles ... waking up angry and miserable every single day. It was hard to watch and frustrating to see it continue, regardless of the steps we had taken. So, we started daily meditation. This child is younger, so we kept them short and geared toward children.
Oh. my. holy. cow.
Is it a magic pill? No. This child is not free from all of their struggles. However ... however, we have seen daily improvements in sleep, mood and an increase in genuine happiness and joy. We have seen a very obvious decrease in negative behaviors that were not affected by medication and therapy alone. For the first time. Ever. This child will continue to battle some things, but the daily meditation has removed so many clouds from their "sky."
You can read more below. You can google search and watch resources. Do your own legwork. Or trust me. Give it a try.
I am so happy with how it has helped my children and myself, I am going to offer a way to help you give it a try. You see, we do guided meditations we find online (note: NOT just sitting there still and quiet for ten minutes!). For the month of May, I am hosting a Facebook group where I will provide these daily meditations you can just stream online and do alongside your child. Nothing fancy. Just meditations we have found online that work for us. This will be geared to grade school and younger. To join this group, head over to "Meditation May!"
My daughter is going to host another month online for teens and adults. This keeps her accountable and is helping her practice her leadership skills. You can find that group at "Love Me, Choose Me, Pick Me." Why, yes, we do love Grey's Anatomy in our house. Please note: if you join her group, she expects participation. She's 14 and leading the way. The adults better keep up!
I triple-dog-dare you to try this with your kid for one month. Give yourself and your kids little weekly rewards when you knock out another seven days, if you need the extra push. I dare you to just give it a good, solid try. It's free. It's simple.
And I'll be doing it with you.
Now for links and research and what-not.
Dr. Bruce Perry is touting the unbelievable impact of rhythmic activities: yoga, meditation with deep breathing, singing, dancing, drumming, etc. Read more at "Perry: Rhythm Regulates the Brain"
"Recent studies from Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that eight weeks of MBSR can actually produce thickening in particular regions of the brain important for learning, memory, executive decision-making and perspective-taking: all important functions to have at optimal levels when you are under stress or experiencing pain. Also, certain regions get thinner like the amygdala, which involves threat and fear circuitry. If the amygdala is getting thinner after you’ve been practicing mindfulness for only eight weeks, I find that pretty amazing." Read more at "Q&A: Jon Kabat-Zinn Talks About Bringing Mindfulness Meditation to Medicine"
"For years the research results have been pouring in: anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease respond to meditation. The latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a practice that incorporates mindfulness meditation can boost attentiveness and improve mood while lowering stress in less than a week. After just five days of 20-minute sessions, students who meditated outscored their peers (who were practicing a form of guided relaxation) on tests of attention—and reported feeling less angry, anxious, and depressed." Read more at: "A 3-Minute Dose of Meditation"
"From eight types of potential benefit identified by the study’s authors, those rated as most important by the students were stress relief and enhanced school climate, including through improved teacher mood. Although further study is needed, these results indicate that high-risk adolescents can sense the benefits of mindfulness meditation after just brief exposure to the practice." Read more at "Research Roundup: Mindfulness in Schools"
"Several experts likened the current state of mindfulness to the way people approached yoga a few decades back. These days child's pose is part of everyday language, but not so long ago yoga was seen as kooky or, worse, some odd religious practice. Like yoga, mindfulness is rooted in contemplative religious practice and like yoga has been secularized and is used as a complementary medical treatment for many conditions, as well as in schools." Read more at "Mindfulness mediation at school gives kids tools for emotional expression."