love – Patience – Tolerance

Children’s meditation in schools, more harm than good?

Your child comes home from school one day and tells you that they have started doing a group meditation. You probably answer ‘that’s nice’ and continue with whatever job is at hand. Most likely never giving it another thought.

Mainstream meditation exercises, or visualisation/distraction techniques presented as mindfulness are fast becoming a social trend. Mostly adopted from Eastern practices of mindfulness. We have seized upon these practices without much understanding or regard as to how helpful they actually are to children, or more to the point the serious ongoing problems they can potentially cause an individual already suffering from overthinking and stress.

‘No meditation practice is a toy, all have spiritual consequences’

We seem to live in a growing society of ready acceptance, without ever really questioning what is presented. ‘If someone sais it’s helpful , it must be helpful’. As was pointed out to me once, having an open mind is good. But not to the point my brains start falling out. Questioning things should be encouraged in children, and us adults alike. Not everything is as it looks on the outside.

Many schools are now using guided meditations to supposedly help the children relax and de-stress . And a lot of parents have absolutely no idea of the practice their children are partaking in.

I don’t buy that encouraging children to believe in the idea that fantasising away from reality is in some way a solution to worry. It isn’t. Why is avoidance with more thinking and suppressing negative emotions now seen as such a positive activity. One that our children should be taking part in without question.

When my daughter came home telling us about her meditation a couple of years ago I asked her to explain it. She described closing her eyes and visualising putting all her worry thoughts in a tree where they will be taken away. She also explained that it was a bit silly. Smart cookie.

What she described was a suppression technique. Suppressing negative thought for positive ones. Sounds harmless but the long term effects of suppressing negative emotions creates a boiling pot. Nothing is actually being dealt with, simply pushed aside.

My introduction to meditation was through dialectical behavioural therapy while undertaking treatment for borderline personality disorder. Most mental health treatments and programs also now use mindfulness at the core of their treatments. It was nothing more than a suppressing/distraction technique, just another way to avoid the actual problems I was experiencing. An exercise that brought a false sense of wellness, along with a buzz from the hypnotic effect caused by focusing on breathing and fantasising away from reality, while the underlying stresses continued to tax me physically and mentally.

All the while, something in me became addicted to the idea I could fix all my problems through my thinking. It was like a powerful narcotic.

Many children suffer from a lack of concentration, mostly caused by distraction and overthinking in an ever stimulating world. Any parent with a child suffering from ADHD will be fully aware of this. So to introduce a practice of distraction and more thinking to any child disguised as a helpful tool, is nothing short of backwards. It makes no sense.

‘There are many types of exercises termed meditation’

I’m not here to promote a ‘ mine is better than yours’ deal. That would be ridiculous and serve no purpose.

If you have read any of my other posts referring to stress, you’ll be aware I practice a meditation exercise. It’s the reason why my daughter Doesn’t join in the group exercise at her school. Mixing spiritual practices and principles will have consequences.

I passed it on to her a few years ago at her request. She was going through a stressful time and felt it would benefit her. My wife has also benefit from this practice.

The exercise is one of conscious awareness. It’s not about suppressing thoughts or clearing the mind to feel warm and fuzzy. Far from it. It is a practice of observing thoughts that pass through the mind. Good and bad without struggling with them. It is a way to meet stress without becoming overwhelmed by it. In the present moment. To be aware of negative emotions without becoming affected by them. Not to run from, or bury them.

Here’s the link If you are interested

Meditation is a personal experience, one that should be approached with understanding.

So ask the questions, find out what’s being passed on to your children.with the growing rates of mental health issues in youngsters now, it may just save them a lot of problems in the long run.

2 responses to “Children’s meditation in schools, more harm than good?”

  1. I’m not sure that guided meditation does involve more thinking and suppressing negative emotions. Not exactly sure how sitting still, quietening the mind, and just observing what’s going on counts as more thinking?

    And isn’t conscious awareness eventually what you build up to with meditation? It’s just hard getting children straight to that point, and perhaps starting with visulation is a good place with children?

    And isn’t putting all your worries in a tree and letting them be taken away quite similar to how you described conscious awareness? Observing thoughts as they pass through? You’re essentially letting them go at some point?

    I’m all up for meditation and really do think children should be taught it in schools. I’m not super experienced with meditation and mindfulness, and tend to dip in and out and practice various forms. I do agree that children should be taught to address thoughts and not suppress them, but I just don’t see what you’ve described as something that does suppress them. I might just be reading you wrong though.


    1. Any guided meditation that suggests visualisation and takes you out of the present moment can be harmful, like imagining worry trees and magically having the power to make your problems disappear with your imagination. Worry trees don’t exist, those exercises are a polar opposite to conscious awareness, they are nonsense and pulling the practitioner further to sleep. It is a distraction, you cannot quiet the mind with more thinking. Sitting still for flights of imagination is not a healthy coping mechanism to be instilling in anyone. Especially vulnerable children.
      My point is to be willing to make the discoveries for yourself and be willing to ask the questions.


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