It’s that time of year here in the US—kids are back in school! A great way parents and teachers can prepare them for all the challenges that will come their way—tests, extra-curriculars, bullying, time management, study habits and skills—gain relief from stress, and increase their mental powers is introducing them to the power of meditation for kids!
Including meditation in their daily routine is like a magic potion! In fact, a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania showed that even a few minutes of daily meditation helps improve focus and performance dramatically.
Here are some tips to share with your kids on how meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda can help bolster concentration and memory, and even help them score higher grades without stress.
1. Love what you study. When you love a subject, it loves you back. So, if you generally dislike any academic discipline, then just for a day, intentionally stop your distaste for it. Simply tell yourself, “Today, I shall read this textbook with a lot of love.”
Give it a try and notice the change. Do you need to make an effort to concentrate on a sports event or an interesting movie? You’re attentive just naturally, correct? Similarly, enjoy studying and you’ll be able to concentrate better. The result will be success in school and higher grades.
2. Get a good night’s sleep. Late-night chats and hangouts might seem cool, but they’re terrible for your memory. The CDC recommends children 6–12 get 9–12 hours of sleep per night, and teenagers 8–10; your brain needs it! During your exam-preparation time, you may have too much to do and too little time, which is exactly the best time to meditate.
Twenty minutes of meditation every day, preferably in the morning or before lunch, sharpens the brain cells. If you practice regularly, it also increases the gray matter in your brain AND bonus: it will make you happier.
3. Eat healthy for a calm, energized mind. You are what you eat. Chocolate, gummy bears, ice cream, potato chips, french fries, and other junk foods are tempting, but they’ll leave you with a restless mind and lethargic body. Naturally, your mind wanders, affecting your attention span. Simple connection, right? So, choose what you eat carefully. Avoid foods with too much spice or sugar, and reduce the intake of fried and junk food. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, and salads in your diet.
4. Daily yoga asanas keep you engaged. Sun Salutations and shoulder stands help increase blood circulation to the brain. As a result, you experience increased alertness and awareness. Your mind doesn’t wander. You also perform better in every area of your life.
5. Do pranayama to make life fun. Can you believe that a two-and-a-half-minute breathing technique can help you retain and improve concentration for three hours? The concentration pranayama, taught during Art of Living youth courses, helps improve memory and retention power as well as reduces the time needed to finish your studies. This will allow you to have more time for play and fun with friends. Join the YES! or the YES for Schools program to learn this and other fun techniques.
6. Practice Sudarshan Kriya with meditation daily. Art of Living founder Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave the world a powerful breathing technique, Sudarshan Kriya. A one-stop solution for a good mental and physical health, it cleanses the body and mind, aligning them with rhythms of the universe. Practicing this breathing technique daily will free your mind of fears. You’ll be confident enough to tackle any exam on any subject, and you’ll have greater clarity, which will aid you with decisions and inspire you venture into new challenges.
In concert with your practice of Sudarshan Kriya, you can slip quietly into meditation during breaks at school, at your college campus, at home, or even with friends in a park. In fact, meditating with friends has a bigger impact. You can beat the exam blues with a few minutes of meditation. It will help you gather your thoughts and give you clarity of mind. Enhanced concentration and focus are also byproducts of meditating daily.
7. Develop your intuition (and listen to it!). Intuition is your sixth sense, your gut feeling and you were born with it. Children inherently have sharper intuition than adults. The education system today teaches us to rely on intellect, so in the long run, we often forget to listen to an inner voice. You might go wrong with decisions made from your intellect, but intuition won’t fail you. There are so many examples showing how people who follow their intuition excel more in life.
Meditation, breathing practices, and going with your gut are just a few ways heading back to school can be easier and more satisfying for both you and your parents! Give some of these ideas a try and good luck for a great year!