If parents meditate, their children will be healthier and happier. There are many simple reasons for this. I will try to explain them.
This article comes from the perspective of yoga – a physical meditation that for thousands of years has studied health and the nature of mind.
Firstly, it must be understood how meditation works, and why it will produce benefits in the family home. Meditation is all about observing – people are required to spend time meditating upon whatever it is they are doing. One way is in a yoga stretch-class, where a person investigates the way their body is able to move, where it is restricted, how breathing enables relaxation, and how the mind carries tension.
By regularly practising such meditation, we start to realise things about our own body… and eventually discover that it is the mind that is the key player in our lives. It is our mind that controls our body, its tensions, its emotions, and its health.
When this is understood we can start to see that our mental level of tension has a direct impact upon our bodies. Put simply, if a person feels stressed, their body will bear this stress.
Now we need to look at how children relate to stress. Children are totally hooked into the psycho-emotional environment they are surrounded by. If any emotional or psychological imbalance exists in the family home, children will worry. They are so sensitive to their parents’ behaviour – and to the level of energetic calm in their environment – that their own behaviour will perfectly reflect this. So will their level of health. This means they will get sick if there is anxiety in the home.
The brilliant thing about all this is that we can actually trust our children to be highlighting any anxieties that we are unable to notice ourselves. So when children are getting frustrated, angry, resistant, or irritable – or if they get a fever, headaches, vomiting, a cold – we would do well to listen to them and take a second to consider whether their environment is secure and calm emotionally. More to the point, are we as parents being secure and calm emotionally.
It is quite normal for adults to experience stress – at work, with the law, with society, in our relationships, etc…so it is fair to expect that tensions will occur in our lives. Even at home two parents will have tensions between each other, and their own children! All of this is reasonable, but it would be foolish to think children don’t notice, or that anything can really be hidden. Children are highly perceptive and intuitive. Meditation is one real way to filter and settle these tensions in a healthy and efficient way. It’s also good for our own health.
Meditation provides the opportunity for people to slow time down, and to step outside of drama, even for just a moment. Information is everywhere, if we can just spend some time noticing. It’s similar to how things become clearer when a dust storm settles.
Parents can use meditation as a tool: to relieve their own stresses, to gain some rest and calm, but also to recognise what is going on around them. Most people are so involved in their own dramas that they cannot see what impact their own behaviour is having on others. Children are affected by this.
This leads to the more serious issue of chronic illness. Many adults have deep psychological issues from their past which are not truly resolved, and it follows that these influence their own behaviour. Neurosis, dysfunction, insecurity, immaturity…these are not healthy behaviours. If children are surrounded by any of these – especially for a long period of time, they will feel constraint. It will worry them deeply. Their bodies will inevitably reflect this – especially if these issues do not appear able to be resolved. Has anyone thought that this could be the cause of asthma, A.D.H.D., depression, diabetes, or anorexia?
This is not meant to be about blaming parents – for the whole point of yoga and meditation is that awareness provides useful information and opportunity – that which denial and ignorance cannot afford. By recognising something that was previously unseen, one can do something, find another way. Parents can recognise how beautifully connected their children are, for a start.
One great thing about meditation is that it engenders appreciation. Time is taken to notice what is here, and what we can be thankful for (such as our health). Acceptance is another forthcoming realisation. It really is worth doing. Think of it as a gift to your family and friends. For surely they will all benefit from your own peace of mind.
The best way to meditate is to sit still and do no physical practice other than remain still, and watch. Ten minutes would be fine. By observing our body, our breathing, our thoughts, and the space we are in – we will start to notice more information. It is normal that our minds are distracted – but slowly things resolve, understanding comes, tensions are released. Taking time out from the constant drama of life is a clever choice. I know that parents are doing their best; it would just be better if they were doing meditation.
Toby Wallace studied yoga (masters) in Varanasi, India. He runs his own yoga centre – Land of Yoga – in Preston, Melbourne. He has had his work published in The Australian, The Age, WellBeing and Health and Yoga (UK).
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