I remember taking my then three year old to kindergarten many years ago. On arrival I noticed the room set up with loads of activities and games, a book corner, the craft corner .. and on each surface a ‘project’ to be tackled. I was the only one who expressed concern .. ‘when do they have time to do nothing?’ .. ‘when is there time to get bored?’
No one really heard me. I was alone on this one.
Rolling forward to the now 15 year old and her classmates .. what I notice is the general inability to accept boredom. My daughter has heard it a thousand times ‘Oh, I would love you to get bored .. and then you will find something magical and creative to do’. And usually she does.
I never thought it healthy to pander to, and encourage, the 24x7 entertainment factor. Modern living is full of entertainment and activity .. to the point that most of us have forgotten how to ‘be’ bored, be still and unencumbered from constant ‘doing’. It is a valid question .. what are you cloaking under the constant busy-ness? .. why are people fearful of being alone with themselves?
But back to our kids. The generation that will be taking our world forward.
Happily there is growing interest and aliveness in the discussion around children reaping the benefits of meditation. This week has seen a plethora of online articles about the growing interest in meditation within the school sysstem. Mostly I am reading about schools in the US and the Europe. Today, two further articles:
We commonly lament to our kids ‘pay attention’ .. but have we provided them with the tools to help them switch their attention away from ‘weapons of mass distraction’? (what a brilliant phrase). The presence of personal devices at school ‘naturally alarms a lot of teachers. More damanging are the habits which they inculcate in the young – the surfing mentality which is always looking restlessly towards the next image, message or sensation’.
Meditation shows us how to calm and center ourselves .. then we 'can get down to the business of learning'. Enter MINDFULNESS ‘using the breath as a pivot to return attention again and again to the present moment’ ..
‘studies conduct in both the US and Canada have demonstrated that elementary school children who engage in as little as a few minutes of directed mindfulness exercises a day were more attentive in class, got better grades and exhibited less aggression and other behavioural problems than those without training’.
And closer to home .. from New Zealand : “Children find meditation a blissful experience”
At St Paul’s Catholic School .. the children are meditating. In fact, ‘every one of the school’s 132 students from year one to eight meditate for five to 10 minutes every day. And it’s been going on quietly for the last five years.”
.. last year I attended Meditation Matters an interfaith dialogue 'sharing meditation practices of different faiths' at Melbourne University. One of the keynote speakers was a gentleman (I cannot locate my notes, so I apologise for not currently having a name to address) who spoke about the introduction of meditation into the Melbourne Catholic school system. This was an inspiring presentation and since that time I have had the opportunity to speak with many parents now experiencing the results of that introduction .. commonly their reaction has been surprise then delight. Many mum's will sit with their children for those five to ten minutes each morning, after the bell goes, listening to the gong and watching the breath.
What a brilliant start to the day .. for all concerned.