Meditation in Schools
Children and young people take to meditation with great enthusiasm. They can and like to meditate. It is clear to all that they also need to meditate. Schools, teachers and parents – and children themselves – testify to the fruits that you can feel but cannot measure as well as to the benefits that you can measure. Serious longitudinal research has been conducted to describe this (read here) .
The simple, non-conceptual awareness of God’s presence is part of a child’s consciousness from the beginning. So, it should be no surprise that the practice of meditation comes naturally to children who experience it as both enjoyable and beneficial.
Young children are natural meditators. They enjoy just being with God. Just as they are happy with their parents or grandparents paying attention to a story, so they are happy to be quiet and still in prayer.
It’s less a question of teaching them to meditate and more about us learning from their simplicity and helping them to stay in touch with their contemplative gift. Teaching children to meditate is giving them a spiritual practice and a life skill for the modern world that will remain with them for life.
Because meditation is the common ground of all wisdom traditions it can be taught in appropriate ways to a multi-faith group of children — as most schools now are very diverse. This gives meditation a special place in harmonising our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society; it is a silent — and transformative — meeting point where words and symbols temporarily give way to silence, which is a powerful common bond of understanding.
Children today are exposed to adult pressures and the addictions of digital entertainment at very early ages. Meditation simply and immediately helps them to cope and survive these forces. Teachers notice the benefits very quickly in classes and schools where meditation becomes part of the regular experience of the children. The children report that they like to meditate in their own time.
The ‘story of silence’ unfolding through our work of teaching meditation to children in twenty countries within the World Community highlights the importance of principals, teachers and parents in passing on — through the wisdom of Christian Meditation — the inestimable gift of silence and stillness in a fragmented and distracted world.
Here is a simple practice where it takes a few minutes to explain how to meditate. But it takes a lifetime to enjoy the full fruits of the spirit where ‘experience is the true teacher.’ To introduce children to meditation, we need the courage and confidence to believe, as Jesus said, that the mysteries of the Kingdom are disclosed to the simple. ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’