An important part of living our purpose is having the inner power to do so, which involves the ability to tap into a place of calm and peace that is always accessible within you. Oftentimes, our brain is literally racing with thoughts, from endless to-do lists and reliving past conversations, to worrying about how to pay the bills next month. No wonder we're always so tired at the end of the day!
For kids, they might be worrying about an upcoming exam or how to avoid the person who keeps picking on them after school. All of these thoughts put kids on edge and trigger the "fight or flight" response in the brain that prevents them from truly focusing. Imagine if you were always in survival mode, which is what the "fight or flight" response is for. You can easily see how there is an epidemic of stress no matter what our age.
Mindfulness meditation is one tool in the "inner empowerment toolkit" that allows us to observe our thoughts, without holding judgment, to just notice their presence. It could involve noticing our thoughts and emotions or noticing our breathing. Each inhale and exhale reminds us that at this very moment, we are alive. It puts our minds back into a normal, "rest and digest" state.
I'm thrilled to read in a recent New York Times article, "Under Stress, Students in New York schools find Calm in Meditation" that schools are becoming more interested in using mindfulness meditation to help students feel calmer and more focused. I've taken mindfulness training and curriculum training through a nonprofit, Mindful Schools, in the past and there are numerous ways for trained educators to incorporate mindfulness into literally any activity. Just a few minutes of intentional mindfulness helps both kids and teachers feel centered, allowing them to learn or teach.
The article also mentions transcendental meditation (TM), which is something that my husband, Rob, and I started doing in March last year. TM involves repeating a mantra internally in our minds to ease us into a calm, restful and alert state. We both love doing TM, and while we are human and sometimes miss the twice-a-day recommendation, both of us have seen benefits, including a calmer mind, energy and focus.
Between these two types of meditation (and there are so many different types that are out there), my life has become a whole lot less stressful. Things happen in our lives that aren't always to our liking. What's important is how calmly and creatively we respond (as opposed to react) to these things.
If you meditate, what types do you find helpful? How has it impacted you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!