A teen’s life can be really stressful. When compared to previous generation teens are under more pressure than any time in history.
Peer pressure, hormonal changes and academic stress at school can make your teen irritable. Stress and anxiety today is causing a teenage attention disorder epidemic.
When we think of mindfulness, we usually don’t think about teens, but the mindfulness practice can be beneficial for teens. Mindfulness helps them to cultivate the skills of concentration, impulse control, and empathy.
As teens navigate their adolescence, mindfulness meditation can be the effective and practical tool for managing stress.
What’s Meditation and Its Benefits on Teens
However, in this information age, teens are busy with Facebook, checking their Instagram likes and texting with friends, and the practice of mindfulness may seem like a lost art for teenagers.
Teens often don’t consider meditation cool and selling teens on meditation may not be easy. The good news is meditation can be practiced any time, anywhere, and it only takes a few minutes.
Mindfulness is an effective tool to manage stress and live life more fully. Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment, without judging it or analyzing it. Most teens find it challenging to sit calmly for a few minutes, take deep breaths and focus on the present.
Meditation for Teens is a great way to focus on the topic at hand, and become calm, relaxed and quiet.
Daily meditation practice has positive effects on teens mental, emotional and intellectual development. Meditation helps develop better social interactions, better character, and improve sleep quality.
Here are the benefits of meditation for teens:
- It calm their agitated mind: Just like adults, when teens are stressed, their mind jump from thought to thought like an agitated monkey and fuels stress and anxiety.
Teens are more busy with gadgets and technology these days. They are very adapted to responding quickly to online communication, surf, tweet and play high-speed games.
Besides these abilities, you want your children to have the capacity to focus only on one thing and be able to stick with their studies. The practice of mindfulness can help them to focus, solve complex problems and develop the patience to see projects through to the completion.
- Ready them for the challenges of adolescence: Teens have strong emotions and gets easily influenced by the surrounding environment. Through the practice of mindfulness, teens have access to a great feeling of inner security and stability.
The practice helps them to overcome the effects of hormonal changes in their bodies, allows them an insight into the inner wisdom and makes them stay strong and centered.
- Promotes academic success: You have noticed that when you are enjoying doing something, such as watching the sun going down in the ocean or playing with a baby, your mind is not angry, worried or anxious. The body follows the mind, so when your mind is calm, your body is also relaxed.
When your teen's mind is calm, and body is healthy, he can function at his peak for exam performance. Preferably, we all hope that our children can think creatively, solve complex problems, and have the ability to progress in life. Meditation allows your teen's mind to be fresh and inspired by eliminating the negative effects of stress and anxiety.
- Support healthy emotional development: Meditation is an excellent practice for children who are experiencing strong emotions such as fear and frustration. Teens haven’t yet learned the virtue of patience, and often they get irritable or feel frustrated when things don’t go their way.
Fear is also a strong emotion. Fears such as not accepted by friends, inability to finish homework or failure to succeed in sports events could trouble children. Emotional stability is essential for healthy growth.
The practice of meditation helps them to cope with strong emotions such as fear and frustration. It supports the emotional development, balance the mental system and gives rest to the mind so that they are not overwhelmed by strong feelings.
- It helps teens reach their full potential: Teens are often troubled by stress, anxiety and other problems. Through meditation, children will know that there is so much more potential in their life and the problems are brief, and they can be successful beyond their dreams.
How Meditation Helps Teens with Study
Meditation helps teens tremendously. Here is how meditation helps with the study:
- Meditation raises the IQ levels: According to this report (Students' Intelligence and Creativity Improved By Transcendental Meditation Technique), students practicing, meditation benefits from increases in brain function. Most dramatic increases happen in IQ, practical intelligence, and creative thinking.
- Lowers academic stresses: This report (A Longitudinal Study of Students’ Perceptions of Using Deep Breathing Meditation to Reduce Testing Stresses by Gina Paul Medical/Dental Preparatory Program Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Carbondale, Illinois, USA Barb Elam Wellness Center Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale, Illinois, USA Steven J.
Verhulst Statistics and Research Consulting Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Springfield, Illinois, USA) shows that meditation practice lowers academic stress. The practice also helps them better concentration when studying, more alertness and greater resistance to the physical effects of stress during exams.
- Improved academic achievement: According to this report (Transcendental Meditation improves standardized academic achievement at Education Research Report), meditation practice help improves academic achievement. Studies show student group that meditated benefited from an improvement in both English and Math scores.
- Better Focus: This report (New study shows Transcendental Meditation improves brain functioning in ADHD students A non-drug approach to enhance students' ability to learn by MAHARISHI UNIVERSITY OF MANAGEMENT shows that meditation causes a positive chain reaction.
It shows that meditation increases brain processing power and improved language-based skills. It happens because meditation helps the student’s mind to calm down and lower ADHD, stress and anxiety symptoms.
- Brain integrity and efficiency: Meditation helps to regulate emotions and behavior in students. These changes lead to better intellectual and cognitive performance.
This report will help you know more. (Integrative body-mind training (IBMT) meditation found to boost brain connectivity at ScienceDaily)
- Makes students happier and confident: This report (Scientific evidence that Transcendental Meditation works published at David Lynch Foundation) reveals that students who practice meditation daily get higher scores on emotional competence, self-esteem, and affectivity.
Meditation lowers stress; anxiety and help teens focus their energies. Various studies show that meditation can help teens perform better in school.
In not only the study, but meditation also helps with creative, athletic and social performance. When meditation is included into the learning process, teens embrace simplicity, find perspective and become more compassionate. In recent times, schools all across the U.S. have started to incorporate meditation into their curriculum, and it is showing extremely positive results.
New Haven Academy in Connecticut made it mandatory for new students to take meditation and yoga classes three times a week. Various schools in San Francisco have shown promising results with in-school meditation program.
Teens attending these programs have shown remarkable improvement in class attendance, stress management, and test proficiency. Various other studies published in reputable journals reveal the same results.
This article (Should Schools Teach Kids to Meditate? by AMANDA MACHADO published at The Atlantic) on teens and meditation is worth reading. The meditation practice in schools has become so popular that all types of the school, including low income, middle income, high income, public and private, all-embracing meditation in school.
Meditation practice increase working memory and boost test scores:
A study report published in the Psychological Science reveals that mindfulness training improves working memory and help to boost standardized test scores. Between the standardized tests, GRE and SAT are the two most accepted exams.
The tests reveal every participant’s cognitive ability and show how they are going to perform when they start working as professional and face with tough challenges.
Michael Mrazek, a psychological scientist at the University of California, discusses how targeting mind wandering could be the most reliable way to improve performance on the SAT and GRE “With mindfulness students lowers mind wandering, and hence performance improves in educational contexts.
Mind wandering is a common problem in our lives. We all experience that our attention strays and we start to think everything but the task that we are doing currently.
Some mind wandering is normal, but constant and prolonged period of mind wandering have negative effects on our ability to do cognitive tasks. Mind wandering has been associated with IQ, working memory capacity and SAT performance.
Best Meditation Techniques for Teens
Meditating just for a few minutes a day can help your teen to lower stress and anxiety. The practice helps overcome the challenges that life throws at teens and creates a sense of contentment.
Here are some guided meditation practices that are best for teens:
- Breathing Exercise: Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways to initiate the teens into practicing meditation. Deep breathing exercises help the agitated mind of the teen to focus.
To practice, help your teen find a quiet place and sit comfortably. (Also school setting is great for meditation practice). The teen then should close his eyes; take a deep breath in, and a long breath out.
He should let the destructive and negative worries and thoughts to float out of his mind. If the teen gets distracted, he should simply notice where his mind went and brought back his mind on breathing again. Practice for several minutes.
- Mindfulness Meditation: For the teens, knowing their inner landscape is crucial, and the practice of mindfulness meditation helps with it. Help your teen get to relax and calm for this practice.
Then encourage him to label his thoughts and emotions like contentment, impatience, planning, etc. as they appear in his mind. Practicing mindfulness will help your teen to see things from a new perspective.
- Mantra Meditation: Focusing on a mantra will help your teen’s mind to focus and calm him down.
Ask your child to relax, clear his mind, take deep breaths while repeating the mantra. The teen can repeat the mantra silently in his mind or repeat them loudly.
- Heart Breath: This is another type of meditation, which offers several physical benefits. Help your teen to relax and breathe gently. As he is practicing, he has to imagine a positive mental picture in his mind.
The positive mental picture will steady his heart rate and calm him down. The change of the heart rate will have a positive effect on other parts of his body, including his blood pressure and brain waves. The change in the body rhythm will make your teen more creative and intuitive.
- Compassion meditation: Building the ability to empathize is very important for teens and compassion meditation helps with it. Help your teen start the practice by relaxing and calmly watching his breath.
Then the teen should allow his mind drift towards anyone he talks about all the time and deeply likes or love him, be it a pet or a person. Now instruct your teen to see the world with the same compassion and positive emotion.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: According to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, progressive muscle relaxation exercise is an extremely effective practice to relax their mind and lower stress. The exercise revolves around tensing and then relaxing specific muscle groups to lower stress and tension from the body.
- Visualization: If your teen is stressed about passing an exam or doing well in a sports event, then he should practice very easy and extremely helpful visualization exercises.
The practice is simple, ask your kid to close his eyes and take gentle breaths for a few moments.
- Body Scan: This is a crucial practice, and we will discuss it later.
Meditation can be practiced any time anywhere, but morning is the best time to practice meditation for teens. After waking up, your kid can practice brief 5 to 10 minutes of meditation practice and start to get ready for school.
When the practice is perform in the morning, it gets done. Otherwise, various events and other commitments can get in the way. We also discussed that these days’ schools are taking meditation practice very seriously, and school setting is another good option for practicing meditation.
Meditation Preparation for Teens
Pre teen girl is relaxing in the bed and listening to music with earphones on the tablet at home
Before start practicing meditation, it is important for kids to know how to breathe for meditation.
How to breathe in for meditation?
Smell the Flowers
The aim of the practice is to teach kids how to breathe in on command, ideally through their nose.
- Ask your kid to walk in a garden or give him a few flowers and ask him to smell the flowers.
- Tell him to show you how to smell the flower.
- Ask how the flowers smell like.
- Notice how he is breathing - is he smelling through his nose or breathing in through his mouth.
- Show how you smell the flowers by breathing in through your nose. Gently breathe in and out through your nose several times and ask him to do the same.
- Position your hand over your mouth, so it is not possible for you to breathe through your mouth and tell him to place his hand over his mouth just like you.
- Tell him to smell the flowers with his hand over his mouth.
- Make it a plaything, do it with him.
- Ask him to breathe in quickly, then slowly. First with his mouth, then with his nose.
- Watch him do it.
- Ask him to listen carefully to his breathing. Notice if he makes any funny noises when he breathes through his mouth or his nose.
- Ask him to try and see if they can smell the fragrance of the flowers when he breathes in through his mouth instead of his nose.
In a paper cup, put something fragrant and ask your kid to smell it and tell you what it smells like. Some items you can use:
- Coffee grounds
- Tea Bag
- Wintergreen Life Savors
- Coffee grounds
- Tea Bag
- Wintergreen Life Savors
Here are two methods to teach your kid how to blow out properly when meditating:
- Ask him to notice what happens when he blows really hard. Also, see if he can blow very gently and make a big bubble. Practice with both slow blowing and first blowing.
- Ask him to release the balloon once it inflated and then tell him to pay attention to the balloon as the air gets out quickly. Remind him to compare the flattened balloon with his belly when he breathes.
- Light a candle and ask your kid to blow it out. Now light it again and ask him to blow out in a way that the flame dance.
Practice these activities to teach your teen proper breathing technique for meditation and make things fun for him.
Best Meditation Exercises for Teens
Now we are going to practice meditation exercises for teens, starting with basic relaxation breathing.
A breathing technique is very useful quelling down the stress response, and it can really help kids and teens to calm down anxiety, stress, and anger. Basic relaxation breathing includes breathing in through the nose to the count of four and breathing out through the mouth to the count of eight. This style of breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system twice.
Start with this simple technique and encourage him to practice any time of the day as many times he wishes. Especially if he is upset, worried, stressed out or angry. This simple breathing technique is an excellent way to increase his ability to self-regulate.
The best practice:
- Gently breathe in through your nose to the count of four and out through your mouth to the count of eight. When you breathe out, squeeze the lips and blow gently as if you are blowing a bubble. This will help you to slow down the exhale. If your nose if stuffy, don’t worry about it. Just breathe in and out through your mouth instead.
- Breathe in through your nose: 1-2-3-4.
- Breathe out through your mouth with your lips squeezed, like blowing a bubble 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.
- Breathe in through your mouth with lips squeezed, blowing gently. As if you are blowing a bubble: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.
- Repeat 3 to 4 times.
- Notice him closely when he is learning and make sure he is breathing in slowly and then breathing out twice as slowly. To get a big breath, often kids will inhale very rapidly. This type of breathing is counterproductive, and it will only fuel the stress response
1 - Belly Breathe
- Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand on your belly above your belly button.
- Relax your body.
- Breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs.
- Let your lungs to fill plunging and make the bottom hard move.
- Imagine you have a balloon in your belly and blow it up with your breath.
- Avoid raising your shoulders or shallow chest breathing.
- As if you are blowing a bubble, breathe out slowly and release. Feel your belly move.
2 - Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Teens
- Go to a place where you are comfortable.
- Like blowing up a balloon in your belly, take three deep belly breaths. Breathe slowly, as if you are blowing a bubble. As you exhale, picture that the tension all over your body is starting to flow away.
- Clamp your fists. Hold the pose for 7 to 10 seconds and then let go for 15 to 20 seconds. Use the same technique for all the other muscle groups.
- Draw your forearms up toward your shoulders and tighten your biceps and create a muscle with both of your arms. Hold the pose and relax.
- By extending your arms out straight and locking your elbows, tighten the triceps – the muscles located on your bottoms of your upper arms. Hold and then relax.
- By raising your eyebrows as far as you can, tighten your muscles in your forehead. Hold and then relax. As they relax, imagine your forehead muscles becoming limp and smooth. Say to yourself, relax, relax.
- By clenching your eyelids tightly shut, tighten the muscles around your eyes. Hold and then relax. Visualize the sensations of profound relaxation spreading and cover your entire body.
- Open your mouth as widely as you can so that it stretches the muscles in your cheeks and tighten your jaws. Hold and then relax. Allow your jaw to hang loose and let your lips part.
- Pull your head way back and tighten the muscles in the back of your neck. Gently try to touch your head to your back. Concentrate only on tensing your neck muscles. Hold and then relax. Do this twice because this area is often tight.
- Take a few deep breaths and tune into the weight of your head. If your mind is thinking anything besides relaxing, it is ok. Simply observe and bring your attention back to your muscles.
- Raise your shoulders as if you are going to touch the ears. This will tighten the shoulders. Hold and then relax.
- Push your shoulder blades back and tighten the muscles around your shoulder blades as if you were going to join them. Hold the tension and relax. Practice twice because often there is a lot of pressure there.
- Take in a deep breath and tighten the muscles of your chest. Hold for up to 10 seconds and then release slowly. When you breathe out, imagine any extra tension in your chest flowing away.
- Suck your stomach in and tighten your stomach muscles. Hold and then release. Picture a flood of relaxation spreading through your belly.
- Arch your lower back and tighten it up. Hold and then relax.
- Tighten the muscles in your bottom. Hold and then relax. Visualize your muscles in the hips are going loose and limp.
- Squeeze your entire thigh muscles, all the way down to your knees. Since the thigh muscles attach near your hips, tighten your hips along with your thighs. Hold and then relax. Feel your thigh muscles relaxing completely as the smooth out.
- Pull your toes toward you and tighten your calf muscles. Hold and then relax.
- Curling your toes downward, tighten your toes downward. Hold and then relax.
- Now picture a flood of relaxation slowly cover all over your body. Starting at your head, gradually covering all the muscle group and finishing at your toes.
3 - Homeworking Mindfully
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take deep breathes in, long breaths out. Now listen to my voice attentively.
- Let’s imagine you are doing homework. Then picture you are going to your school bag and opening the zip and taking out books and notebook for the first subject you have homework in.
- Open your planner and see what your assignment in on that topic. Go to the place where you always do your homework. The place is quiet, and you can concentrate easily.
- You are focused on your homework, but your mind wanders off to thoughts of going outside to play or phoning a friend. But you restrain your mind and say “not now.” What is your first subject? Is it biology, math or science? Visualize you are doing what needs to be done.
- Any time your mind wanders off to other thoughts, feelings or plans, tell it “not now” and bring your mind back to your homework.
- If you notice you are playing with the pencil, or your body wants to get up to move, say “not now” and focus on your homework.
- If your phone rings, ignore it and say “not now.” You will answer it later.
- If you hear the sound of a text message just arriving, ignore it and say “not now, I will look at it later.”
- If any of your siblings come into the room to talk to you, say to them “not now.” I am doing my homework, talk to you later. Then focus your attention on your homework.
- Every time your mind wanders, simply observe it, don’t judge it or analyze it. Simply say “not now” and get back to your homework.
- You control your thoughts and don’t allow other distracting thoughts to control you.
- When you are busy with your homework, tell your brain that it is time for homework and nothing else can distract you. Continue to say “not now” to your thoughts and finish your homework.
- Now visualize that your homework is done.
- Open your eyes and return your attention to the room.
Various studies have shown that teens who meditate regularly are more focused, happier and less likely to get affected by the harmful behaviors such as bullying, isolation or bulimia.
Introducing meditation to your teen’s life is perhaps the greatest gift you can offer. Teens can practice meditation at school. Also, you can make it a family event by practicing daily at home.