Should Meditation Be a Part of Our Curriculum?

Before I can answer that question, I should probably offer a little background on my relationship with meditation. Have you ever read the book This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti? I think I was in my late teens when I came across this fictional Christian masterpiece. Upon completion of the book, I vowed never to participate in anything related to the New Age movement, especially meditation. No way was I going to open my mind to demonic possession while just trying to relax and listen to my breath! I'm not kidding. That is a premise of the book, and I fully believed it up until two years ago. It's okay, I'm laughing with you. There's really no telling what you'll believe when you're absolutely devoid of critical thinking skills.

Thankfully, I've moved on from my supernatural beliefs and baggage and realized the immense physical and psychological benefits of meditation. Not only can meditation potentially slow down the aging process at a cellular level but the mindfulness associated with meditation allows one to patiently observe the thoughts of the mind while realizing that you are not necessarily everything that your mind tells you. In other words, meditation permits you to separate from the ongoing narrative in your head, so that you're not constantly drowning in your ocean of thoughts, which are often a ceaseless cycle of worry.

So, what does this have to do with homeschooling? With child and adolescent mental health disorders on the rise, I wonder if something as simple as mindfulness and meditation could offer our children the tools needed to better cope with their own anxiety, often a natural side effect of our fast paced lifestyles and goal-oriented culture. Homeschooling is certainly more conducive to a relaxed environment in which the child has the freedom and, importantly, the time to pursue their own passions. However, if a child can learn coping mechanisms for anxiety at an early age, we might be offering them a powerful means of combating stress for the rest of their lives.

If you're curious about where to start, I highly recommend the book Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel. This is a quick read that is replete with mindfulness-based advice for parents and easily implemented activities for the child. For example, in Chapter 6 of the book, called "Weathering the Storm Inside," the parent and child are asked to take a moment to give nonjudgmental attention to their internal weather report, how they are feeling in that moment. Later in the day, you're asked  to again take notice of your "weather". True to the changes in an external weather report, our internal weather report can change just as rapidly. Given this observation, it becomes apparent that if our feelings can change so quickly, we obviously can not be everything that our feelings and thoughts tell us that we are. I can't help but think how valuable this message could be if grasped at an early age. Furthermore, you can access the author's child-friendly guided meditations here.

As with all things in life, meditation is a skill that takes patience and practice. Much to my dismay, I've spent four decades honing another skill set, listening to and often believing everything my thoughts told me. Dang it, I should have been letting those demons possess me all along! Fortunately, as homeschooling parents, we have the perfect opportunity to make meditation a regular part of our day and potentially offer our children the gift of peace of mind.