Mindful Movement and Meditation
Helping our children find ‘stillness’…
Are we filling our minds to a point of non-attention, lack of awareness and as though time has no consequence?
In Zen Buddhism there is a philosophy ’If you’re mind is like an over-full cup… to learn about Zen you must first empty your cup… ’
Mindfulness in movement and meditation can improve cognitive flexibility; stimulate memory recall; sustain focus; regulate emotion and create well-being. A study on ‘Mindfulness – Oriented Meditation for Primary School Children explored the affects of meditation on ‘attention and psychological well-being’ . A group of psychologists Cresentini, Capurso, Furlan, and Fabbro, concluded ‘Mindfulness is an attribute of consciousness that can be defined as ‘the ability of paying intentional attention to the present moment experience with an open curious and non-judgemental attitude’ . Hence the phrase ‘being in the moment’ is often used appropriately in yoga classes of today. Cresentini et al., 2016, discovered that meditation enhanced focus and concentration; regulated children’s behaviour assuring socio-emotional development and academic progress. Children who have the ability to let go of distraction and the ‘chitta’ in the mind perform socially and academically with confidence. The longitudinal study showed how the introduction of mindfulness meditation practises in educational settings can be useful to improve children’s cognitive, emotional and social abilities.
In modern living sensory perception is accosted with white noise from radio, mobile, ipad, laptop, TV, Wii Games, DS Games and physically confronted with urbanisation, industrialism, atmospheric toxins and pre-packaged consumerism. Children are exposed to this on a daily basis and then asked to concentrate, focus and perform socially and progress academically. A study by sports educator Robert Fisher 2006 ‘Still Thinking: The case for meditation with Children’ explored how meditation can ‘purify thought’, ‘still the mind’ and ‘cleanse the body’ . Fisher concluded that guided visualisations ‘attune children to intuitive, creative and affective aspects of thinking’ . Fisher believed that meditation could engage a person’s mind beyond words. Meditation enables a person to let go of pressures of modern advancement and aspirations to create, problem solve and evolve.
In essence a child who can let go of external interference and focus inward is developing mindful awareness. Mindful awareness will allow a child to view events without reaction and maintain non-judgement. Hence improving cognitive behaviour; creating stronger social interactions; sustaining relationships and enhancing emotional well-being. Finding Stillness in movement, meditation and life’s pressures can become a self-regulating process. Creating awareness in body, mind and spirit of what it feels like to be in the moment is kinaesthetic learning. A child may ask: How do I feel before a yoga class or mindful meditation? And How do I feel afterwards?’ By ‘doing yoga’ or ‘doing’ meditation a child can learn from the experience and ultimately learn how to ‘be’.
Fiona Scope is a Yoga Teacher and author of ‘Finding Stillness’.
Qualifications: Diploma in Yoga; Diploma in Remedial Therapies; Cert. Kids Yoga, Cert. Yoga Therapy; Diploma in Advertising; currently studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts.
Cresentini, C. Capurso, V. Furlan, S. Fabbro, F. Mindfulness-Oriented Meditation for Primary School Children: Effects on Attention and Psychological Well-being. Front. Psychol. 2016.
Fisher, R. Still Thinking: The case for meditation with children. Journal: Thinking Skills and Creativity, 2006. Vol 1.