Simple meditation exercise for parents and children

School starts finally and all of us are getting busy again. No matter how busy we are, it’s important to take a break. Below is a simple exercise called ‘squared meditation’, which we can practise with children to relax and learn to stay focused.

Let’s find a quiet place and sit comfortably. When you close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and focus on your breathing. When you are ready, breathe in slowly and count ‘1-2-3-4’ as if you are drawing a square. As you are breathing out, count ‘1-2-3-4’ and visualize drawing a square again. Do this slowly and gently, but don’t struggle if you can’t hold the breath for too long. Practise this until you feel you’ve done enough then take a few extra deep breaths and bring your attention back to the room. I recommend five to ten minutes to begin with.

If you are practising with older children, you may verbally count ‘1-2-3-4’ slowly in order to lead the exercise, adjusting to a speed that all of you feel comfortable with. If you are doing this with younger children who may not be able to visualize shapes, you can aid them with pens and paper. Tell them you are playing a game where they have to compete to see who can draw a square as slowly as possible, whilst not forgetting to match with the breathing. It maybe a challenge at first but once you get started, you will see how quickly they become focused. This may also help them to improve concentration at school eventually.

Have a nice school year!

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An article on meditation and wellbeing to share

Meditation: How an ancient practice has come to be known as a panacea for modern ills
Friday, July 26, 2013 by: Nanditha Ram

(NaturalNews) Meditation has long been considered an esoteric practice, far removed from the realities of the world. Yet modern science is telling us just how good it is for health, a fact always known to the ancient yogis of India and Tibet.

Meditation affects brain functioning long after the practice, according to research. One of science’s key discoveries is the absence of activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain (also known as the primitive brain) that processes emotional stimuli, during and after the act of meditation.

A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School also showed that meditation increases the brains capacity to retain information. They began with the hypothesis that people who meditated had more control over the alpha brain waves, responsible for sifting through information in order to screen out distracting thoughts and retain important information for processing. According to the findings of the study, people who meditated showed more focus, presence of mind and sharpness of intellect.

The effects of meditation on anxiety

According to a new imaging study, even individuals with no prior meditation experience showed changes in particular brain mechanisms when they participated in a four-day mindfulness meditation program. The said brain mechanisms correlated to the management of anxiety. Even participants with no history of anxiety or depression showed changes in these particular brain mechanisms. The two anxiety centers of the brain, the anterior cingulate and the vetromedial prefrontal cortex, showed a marked decrease in activity during the presence of anxiety, after meditation.

Mindfulness meditation is the act of focusing on the breath and being aware of thoughts and emotions as they arise, without reacting to them. Awareness is focused on the movement of the chest and the abdomen in tune with the breath. The body and breath are used as tools to effectively filter out thoughts and emotions, while making a conscious choice to not react to them.

According to meditation expert and co-founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, “most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind, but it’s actually much different than that. It’s more about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly – witnessing it coming and going – without judgement, but with a relaxed, focused mind.”

Keeping healthy with meditation

The practice of meditation is also known to keep people healthy and a new study published in the journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, actually confirms this.

For the study, a group of 201 people suffering from coronary heart disease were given a choice: take a health education class or take a course in transcendental meditation. Researchers followed up with both groups over a period of five years and found that those who took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in their symptoms and overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

Scientific studies are one thing. They help us validate a theory up to a point. Practice on the other hand, is what converts hypothesis to fact. A half-hour of meditation a day, then, could really keep the doctor away. And that just might be the best route to a state of mind-body health nirvana.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/041354_meditation_healthy_lifestyles_cardiovascular_health.html#ixzz2dGLWLR72

About the author:
Nanditha Prasad Ram is a consumer and health journalist and a practicing holistic therapist whose mission it is to inform, educate, empower and transform.

Meditation vs Daydreaming

I received some enquiries on the difference between Meditation and Daydreaming. I hope I can give you some ideas here.

Let’s start with the definition of Daydreaming in a dictionary, which is ‘A dreamlike musing or fantasy while awake’! When we daydream, we act like we are doing nothing while our minds are occupied with our fantasies, daily works, plans and everything that we can think of. Some people may think this is relaxing, as they are not doing anything physically. But in fact, our brains are working nonstop, making our thoughts wander loose. Daydreaming arouses more thoughts that we have to deal with, in our mind or realistically. It is a non-stop cycle and our brains would never truly rest throughout that process.

However, when we meditate, we are doing the exact opposite. We focus our attention on our breathing and enjoy the present moment. We do nothing and think nothing. We don’t let our thoughts wander but enjoy the peace and silence within our minds. After meditation, our minds and bodies become revitalized because we let the mind rest well. As a result, we tend to function more effectively in our daily lives.

Please feel free to ask any questions by email or pm me. I may not be able to answer them all but I’ll try my best to.