Friday, April 27, 2007

Teaching meditation to children

I found an article today in an Australian newspaper entitled "Meditation brings spirit of calm to school life". Here's part of what it says:

CHILDREN as young as five should be taught the ancient spiritual practice of meditation alongside religious doctrine, the leader of its modern Christian revival says.

Meditation is one way to tap into children's innate sense of the divine and could lay the spiritual foundations for an enduring religious life that outlasts parent-organised Sunday worship, says Father Laurence Freeman.

For the past 20 years the World Movement for Christian Meditation, of which Father Freeman is founder, has been bringing the contemplative experience out of the monasteries into the wider community. Father Freeman calls his ecumenical movement a monastery without walls, and its growth has been particularly strong among Christians in Australia, where there are now more than 335 meditation groups, said to be the largest number per capita in the world.

Now this visiting British Benedictine monk wants to introduce it to children, who, he says, are particularly receptive to meditative practices....

Ernie Christie, the deputy director of Townsville's Catholic Education Office, said meditation was taught as prayer three times a week from kindergarten to year 12. Sessions are accompanied by gentle music and a candle.

"It's a skilled discipline, and the earlier we get them the more they see it is a natural part of their being. Anecdotally, the feedback has been nothing but positive. The kids are calmer, more open to doing school work, and in secondary school they are asking to do meditation sessions prior to exam time.

"The teachers are saying kids are not as aggressive after meditation. There has not been one negative comment from any of our parents across all our 31 schools, and that's remarkable."

I have a lot of respect for Laurence Freeman's work. And I'm glad to know he is now working with young children.

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