Greg's Headspace: A guest blog post about meditation for children
Having already created some super cute animations for children on Virgin Atlantic flights (to hit the skies in a few months time) we are massively enthusiastic about the prospect of developing more tools for young people and children to feel the benefits of meditation. Greg Perry is the founder and lead trainer at Future Behaviour. He works with schools and teachers to help create better relationships and future learners and has been kind enough to share some of his experiences with meditation and the young people he works with. Watch this space!
Kids need headspace too.
Being young has changed a bit. During my childhood, if I wanted to see a cat, I'd have to look for a real cat. Nowadays, you can press three buttons and a few million cats will appear and some of them will be riding bikes. Now, I love cycling cats as much as the next person but the internet has downsides too. Our young people simply don't get any time for themselves. Before the web, there were spaces in life for quiet contemplation. Not any more.
It's for this reason that I always highlight the benefits of a little meditation to teachers that attend my training courses, both for them and for the young people they work with. Life for parents, teachers and young people isn't getting any easier and some young lives are incredibly challenging and chaotic. The benefits of meditation in terms of easing stress and worry, helping overcome addiction and increasing focus have a strong scientific basis and the sooner the educational establishment get on board with it the better.
The methods I offer for encouraging young people to meditate are straightforward and are similar to those you might use to get partners, your own children or your friends to take some time out of their day too.
1. Point them towards the Headspace website/app and ask them to give it a try.
2. Instead of banging on about how great meditation is (which can often be counterproductive), it is much more powerful for others to simply see the benefits you've gained from it. Let them just observe that you are calmer, happier and more focused.
3. Let children have a go at closing their eyes for a few moments. Ask them simply to sit and listen out for as many different sounds as they can. This can be a great starting point.
4. We're always telling children about the importance of working together but we also need to highlight the importance of quality time with themselves. Just them. That's important too.
5. Talk about your experiences of meditation in a matter-or-fact, non-preachy way. It's important they know that people who meditate are just people who meditate.
I'll continue to encourage anyone who'll listen to consider adding a sprinkling of mindfulness to their lives, whether they're young or less young. If you're a parent, you could ask your child's school to put up a link to Headspace on their website. I think meditation will be arriving in schools everywhere very soon anyway. You'd just be speeding things up.
For more information about the work that Greg does with schools ad young people click here