Youth Meditation: Empowerment Through Mindfulness
Jan 31, 2016 05:26PM
LISA MOOREIt’s not always easy to be a kid these days. Enrolled in nursery schools when they are still in the womb, many children feel an extreme drive to excel as they move through their school years in fast-paced, accelerated programs, competitive sports and a load of extracurricular activities. They may feel pressure from within themselves, their parents, teachers, peers and society to succeed. Yet other children may feel the strain and stigma of being economically underprivileged and endure hardship to get their basic needs met. And others may endure abandonment, abuse, loss and other traumas.
Youth Meditation in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth, teachers and parents with practical knowledge and effective tools for managing stress, anxiety and emotions.
Taught by Ranjit Deora, owner of Charlotte Meditation, and his team of certified instructors, Youth Meditation is based on mindful awareness practices that help kids peacefully tune into to the present moment. These techniques help to improve focus, clarity, concentration, creativity and sleep which directly impact behavior and learning readiness in school.
“Meditation and mindfulness are the building blocks for focus. Often our minds are very busy. It’s the brain’s job to think and emotions come up because of those thoughts and being able to bring your attention back to what’s real is important, especially when we are trying to teach arithmetic and reading and all the fundamentals of education,” said Youth Meditation instructor, Angela Gala, in an interview on the Youth Meditation website.
During the eight-week programs, students explore emotions, expectations, resiliency and problem-solving. The interactive group sessions include breathing techniques, laughter yoga, meditation and positive thinking. Through sharing, students become more aware of emotions and impulses and how thoughts can influence them.
These discussions empower children with methods of recognizing and acknowledging these forces without judgment so they can react mindfully instead of impulsively. Courses are taught in both public and private schools in the Charlotte area, as well as at the Alexander Youth Network, an organization that provides professional treatment to children with serious emotional and behavioral problems.
Mindful Teacher certification courses empower teachers to bring meditation into their classrooms. Teachers learn effective strategies for controlling impulsive behaviors, how to help kids manage stress at school and home, how to give students skills to best handle anger and intense emotions and ways to improve connections with colleagues and students.
A course for parents provides the fundamentals to understand and practice mindful meditation for themselves and their family. They learn how to manage stress at work and at home, strategies to reduce conflict and skills to effectively communicate with their children and other family members.
Tiffany Lyles, a fourth grade teacher, says her students enjoyed the sessions and thought the program was amazing. “I definitely feel as though it is providing the students with various methods to cope with the craziness that the world has to offer.”
Gala acknowledges that the skills the meditation course offers students as they navigate through adolescence will reap long-term benefits.“We’ve seen so much progress in the kids and how they tell us they remember how to breathe when they’re angry before they act. They’re able to focus on their work. They’re able to teach their parents how to calm their anger. We feel if we can get to more children, this is a tool they can have the rest of their lives.”
Info: YouthMeditation.org or 704-299-0200.