Oftentimes, people assume there is only one kind of meditation that involves sitting and being quiet, humming “Ohm.” As a result of their Preformed notions, Most think meditation isn’t for them.
Silent meditation can be challenging because people often struggle with quieting the brain and body, especially children. Although quiet meditation is one of the many kinds of mediation, there are many more that work well for different people! Types of meditation include mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, progressive relaxation meditation, and many other kinds including yoga.
There are so many amazing benefits of meditation, especially when it comes to our kids. Learning how to ground and connect to the body is one of the best skills you can give to your child, and I highly recommend it.
Many parents believe their child will never sit still and meditate, however, I am here to tell you that it is possible. I have had many parents come to me for advice on getting their child to fall asleep and I always recommend trying a meditation before bedtime, which has helped many children fall and stay asleep.
It is time to give meditation a try, and here are a few of my favorites and their benefits!
This is probably my all time favorite type of meditation. This makes you slow down and walk through tensing and relaxing different parts of your body, one by one, which can be done on your own. As you walk through each area, typically from your feet to your head, you tense and release in order to release tension from the body. You can also do a whole-body tightening where you hold it for a few seconds, even though it may feel uncomfortable, and then release. This does a great job of getting rid of muscle tension that holds you back from relaxing your brain and body. Kids love this type of meditation and it is an excellent way for them to learn to relax and connect to their body.
Progressive relaxation not only is a tool to help kids calm their mind and body, it gives them access to information about body sensations to help them
Regulate in all areas of their life. My book, Teletherapy Toolkit™, is very much grounded in connecting to your body and understanding the somatic sensations. Somatic sensations and how we feel are the basis of emotional understanding and learning how to regulate ourselves. We all experience uncomfortable sensations and emotions at one point or another, and knowing how to take care of it is essential. When children dissociate from their feelings, it can cause problems not only in childhood but certainly in adulthood.
You can do progressive relaxation on your own, or even use an app such as Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace, and even Youtube videos.
Moving meditation is great for kids and we want to get kids to be mindful about their movements. During a moving meditation, we want to try and connect to nature and our body movements, which helps us to regulate. You can go for a walk in nature with your child and remind them to pay attention to the small things, such as smelling the flowers. Being outside in nature not only gives us sunlight, but it helps our nervous system to regulate by aligning with the natural rythm of the wind, sounds, and outdoor movement. These small, mindful movements are great ways to help our children connect to their surroundings, their mind, and their bodies.
Meditation can involve rituals of prayer and gratitude affirmations. I work with a lot of people of different belief systems and prayer and gratitude can be a wonderful way to meditate. Bring in the moment and connecting, no matter what your form of prayer is, is a powerful way to calm the nervous system. Sometimes, people use daily gratitude thoughts as a form of meditation, which can be incredibly helpful in the morning to start the day right. It is important to be intentful and to spend some time every day in this practice. This form of mediation can almost be a mantra, which helps your brain and body to get into a relaxed state.
Research has shown that meditation is extremely effective against a variety of mental health and physical issues. Now more than ever, as we are seeing a rise of mental health issues amongst children and teens, tools like meditation should be added to your daily practice. When done daily, it can help support issues such anxiety and stress, OCD, depression, and even addiction.
From neuroscience, we know that meditation helps the brain because it calms the nervous system and it also improves brain connectivity. Brain connectivity is the brain’s ability to talk to itself, and it is needed for a lot of things such as regulating behavior, emotions, for the learning and processing of information, and memory. Meditation is a way to improve brain communication and help regulate our bodies. We know through research that in as little as 40 days, if you do 10 or more minutes of meditation per day, you can make lasting changes to your brain!
Meditation calms that negative or repeated inner chatter that holds us back, which is something that can affect many children and teens. Even young children can have that negative self-talk, which we can stop by teaching them to counter with positive talk. Meditation allows you to create a healthy habit that will serve as something that stress inoculates you. This is especially useful for breaking the cycle of that negative self-talk that we see with children and teens.
At its most level, Breathwork involves stopping and taking time to regulate and focus on your breath so we can calm our mind and body. One of the most important parts of breath work is to make sure you are breathing through your belly and not your chest in order to get into a relaxed parasympathetic state. They key is to breathe deeply through your nose and fill up your belly like a balloon and then have a long Exhalation. There are many effective breathing techniques, and you can check out my videos on Breathwork Activities for Kids and Managing Stress with the REPS Protocol.
For more information on meditation, check out my blog on Useful Mindfulness Techniques
To learn more, check out my Youtube video on How Breathwork and Meditation Helps Kids
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She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
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