It has long been known that meditation has various positive effects on physical health and mental well-being but it has only become a popular topic to study in recent times. A growing interest in neuroplasticity and improvements in brain imaging technology means that scientists can now study activities like meditation to see exactly how they affect human perception and behaviour.
As our society becomes busier and we are bombarded with information and have the means of instant communication with friends and strangers both near and far, many people feel their attention is fractured and life is being lived superficially. Meditation or mindfulness exercises are becoming more popular as people recognise the benefits of silent time to centre themselves. Training the mind to become still and let go of thoughts, particularly negative thoughts, has additional benefits, helping focus attention and improve learning outside of the meditation time.
Our children are also being exposed to the frantic pace of life, they are distracted by technology like mobile phones and computers and they face many pressures in an increasingly complex world. Meditation is being seen as a skill that can be taught to children from primary-school age to help them develop an ability to feel calm and to focus their attention. It is an opportunity to encourage children to develop the habit of creating a silent space in their busy lives.
Dr Ramesh Manocha is a medical practitioner and researcher currently based at the Discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School, Sydney University, with a particular interest in meditation. His PhD focused on evidence based application of meditation to a wide variety of issues including work stress, wellbeing and quality of life, chronic disease, menopause and ADHD.
Currently Dr Ramesh and his team are involved in developing meditation programs for school-age children, which are already generating impressive outcomes with both teachers and students noticing the remarkable benefits. Year three children who were given 10 minutes of meditation a day enjoyed the activity and their teacher noted they were more calm and focused.
There is growing evidence that all of us could benefit from regular meditation. So make the time, find a quiet space and sit comfortably; then quieten your mind. It’s as easy and as difficult as that!
Learn more about the Mental Stillness Learning Project in schools click here.
-Author Simone Wallington (B.A. Grad Dip Ed)