You put them to meditate two times a day one minute for every year of their age, up to 20 minutes. Ideally in the morning and in the mid afternoon. I am gonna talk briefly about how to do this successfully and the value and benefits of integrating this ‘being still, eyes closed, slow deep breathing’ activity as daily as drinking water, eating and sleeping.
Firstly, I am following the basic format of the widely studied TM or transcendental meditation. Instead of the secret mantra given, intermittent use of the breath as a refocusing tool to clear the mind and regulate back to that ‘calm zero state’ where the brain apparently does incredible processing that boosts all executive function skills, including, (drum roll please) emotional control, behavior modulation and impulse control. As if that is not enough, the daily practitioner of meditation also gains an increased emotional intelligence, or ability to manage ones emotions in a goal-directed manner across a variety of situation.
Interestingly, new studies I heard of on the radio are pointing to people saying they are getting more out of doing meditation as a group, rather than individually. That is to say, we behave differently in a group environment than if we are in our own home. Common sense, but common sense that you can bank on as a strategy that increases the possibility of this major executive function skill exercise tool working more effectively early on.
So that information can factor into how a parent, coach or Special Educator decides to introduce this ‘do nothing’ power tool. Importantly, although I emphasize having great expectations, it is also key to have great patience. How you respond to their failure, or their inability to do something how you want, as fast as you want it is something you need to deal with. It highly influences how events unfold.
As for the breathing, I like the focused breathing pace put forth by a well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk who’s books are widely circulated across America’s bookstores. Mr. Thich Nat Han recommends seven seconds of breathing in through the nose, seven seconds of holding it in the bottom belly area, and seven seconds of ultra slow mouth exhalation. That’s 21 seconds for just one breath. 6-9 breaths over 2-3 minutes helps refocus the mind and body very well.
Recognizing value and benefit early on is important for the novice meditator who may battle powerful mindsets that many do not surmount. For example, the idea that meditation is a waist of time is a powerfully negative idea that trips up commitment before anything is started. Harvard University as well as scores of universities, and leading institutions in the states and around the world have studied and recognized the rewiring benefits that come with meditation. In fact, the brain matter in the frontal lobe area of long term meditators actually grows. These meditators show tremendously increased abilities to focus and sustain attention. Every single executive function skill known is made stronger each time a person meditates. The person begins to act and respond to everything differently. The catch is to keep the routine going twice a day.
If it is impractical to put a meditation group together, what about just your friends and/ or immediate family? Don’t use music for the kind of meditation for benefits I am saying you can generate. You can certainly do audio or visually guided meditations in addition to this scientifically based way, or even as a transitioning intro into this form of quiet meditation.
Lastly, stemming decreases rapidly, blood pressure is reset to new norms and motor skills improve dramatically. The first two months of people who stick with instilling this as a daily routine tend to be times of great bursts in self expression and feelings of wonder and amazement. Much is learned by sitting still and being quiet it seems then.