April 16, 2016

Building a Peaceful Generation: Why Meditation Should be Taught in Schools.

Flickr/Dimitris Argyris

We’re accustomed to hearing about adults practicing meditation.

However, rarely do we hear about toddlers and teens putting this practice into action. In the east, it is quite common to enter Buddhist monasteries and see toddler monks coming out of their meditation classes to the playground.

And so, we must ponder the question of why meditation isn’t being taught in schools in the west?

If we behold a school’s regular curriculum, we can see that almost everything is being taught these days. We are basically working on strengthening the knowledge of children, while thoroughly disregarding who they are inside. In other words, we are asking them to make a change in the world, prior to making a change within themselves.

I believe the consequences of this problematic issue are already apparent in our day-to-day life. Never before have we witnessed inhumanity as intensely. Never before has the world observed so many bombings, shootings, rape and wars.

Additionally, our behavior toward each other is the biggest proof that history, math and biology aren’t what’s required to make a change in the world. There is too much anger, resentment and selfishness inside of us.

Whether we like to admit or not—bit by bit, we are becoming devoid of our most human characteristics.

Problems eat away at us when we become adults. We start seeking answers about our existence and purpose. Around the time we hit middle-age, we often discover that our purpose isn’t merely to grow up, study, make money and find a job.

And so, we delve into practices that will help clear our confusion away. We meditate, so we can learn more about our own minds, how to decrease anger and also learn more about who we really are. But, what would happen if we found these answers from a young age? What would happen if meditation was actually taught as part of the regular curriculum?

Although the number is still quite low, some schools are starting to incorporate the practice of meditation for toddlers. Twice a week at Rosemont Nursery School in Portland, Cayce Lannon is teaching kids to find their center by putting aside 45 minutes of meditation and yoga.

Research has proven that teaching meditation in schools is having a positive effect on students’ well-being, social skills and academic skills. There is no doubt that meditation is actually capable of altering our minds’ patterns. A study from Harvard has proven that meditation makes changes in the brain regions associated with memory, empathy and stress. It strengthens memory and concentration abilities, helps build compassion toward others and decreases the level of stress released in the body.

While we may think that kids don’t have any stress to deal with, this video proves us wrong. Just like adults, kids do get angry and upset for many reasons. For instance, they are capable of experiencing dire physical effects due to stress if they are being bullied or ignored.

As the video displays, kids may even be better at grasping meditation, more so than adults, because a toddler’s mind isn’t as loaded yet with life’s difficulties. Their minds are like sponges, soaking up new information swiftly and successfully.

So what can actually happen if we teach kids meditation at schools? The rise of a better generation.

I am most certain that many of our problems could be solved if we’re taught how to deal with our thoughts from a young age. The world’s problems, as well as our own, will decrease incredibly if we’re taught to turn inward, channeling our thoughts and emotions in a way that encourages compassion, kindness and calmness. This could help minimize the violence of this day and age, as well as our decreasing our own personal problems.

It is my hope that every parent will introduce their toddler to meditation, even if their school doesn’t teach it yet. We should learn from the mistakes of past generations, in order to build one with individuals who are more peaceful, more centered and more aware.

When a child knows who he (or she) truly is, he will grow up to pursue the things that really matter. He will grow up to become a better individual in society. He will nurture kindness, understanding and forgiveness. He will be less angry and more aware.

Let’s turn the tables, and let’s start from the inside out. It’s never too late to make this world a better place.


Author: Elyane Youssef

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Dimitris Argyris

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