What Children Say About the Benefits of Meditation

I spent the last three years researching how children from 8 to 12 years old experience meditation. The Ppanel shows how they described its practical benefits in their lives. They found that meditation:(i) enables them to let go of all the drama; (ii) calms and relaxes them and restores them to a sense of well-being; (iii) generates energy and confidence in them; (iv) improves their capacity for decision-making.

To expand on these a little, let me quote from the children themselves, in their own words. When I asked ‘If mediation was a colour, what colour would it be?’ Leanne (9) said it would be yellow because it was a soft and welcoming colour and, for her, meditation was like that. She said ’Meditation calms me and gives me a break from all the drama.’ She was referring to the stress of everyday life but also to the inner commentary that goes on in our minds all the time and which we become keenly aware of when we meditate. The children discovered that in meditation they could let it go.Emelia (9) used the word ‘joy’ very often – ‘I feel joy but I am not just filled with joy, I’m filled with happiness, I’m filled with calmness, I’m filled with everything.’ – suggesting that when she let go of her worries, joy and peace and happiness came up to the surface. Kate (11) felt that after meditation she has a sense that ‘everything is going right even if it feels like it’s going wrong’.

Many of the children reported that meditation gave them energy and confidence. For example, Norah (10) observed that “Every time I do meditation, I feel I’m more bouncy. I have energy inside me and I just feel like I’m really happy.” Leanne (9) said ‘Before I started meditating I was very shy and was often scared to say what I wanted to say. But now I think that my confidence has grown and I’m opening up my heart for the words that are just locked in there. Meditation makes me feel that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.’

Many of the children observed that meditation helped them to think more clearly and make better choices. This usually had to do with developing the capacity to stand back from a challenging situation, to be deliberately thoughtful about it and to respond appropriately rather than react out of upset or anger. Antoni (11) observed, ‘I can see deeper into things, not just see what they are on the surface. He suggested also that “when you’re calm you can talk to people and not just argue with them. Lena (11) said that when she meditates it helps her to figure things out afterwards.  She said ‘When you meditate, you are more independent than you have been before you meditated. So when forgotten memories rush back and all of these things go through your mind, you are able to say ‘You know what, that’s all in the past, let that go; You are more independent now.’ In other words, meditation helped her not to worry about what other people think.

The children’s descriptions of the benefits of meditation match what research on adults has shown over the years. Although these benefits of meditation are very persuasive, and are often the reason people begin to meditate, we will see in a little while that meditation also gives rise to very deep spiritual fruits that help us to discover who we are in our deepest essence as children of God.