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Kids Meditation Story in Radish magazine 2016

May 27, 2016 11:55AM 

Pint-sized peace: Meditation helps people of all ages, kids included

By Chris Cashion
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Chris Cashion
Zach Papke, of Davenport, demonstrates how he meditates in Vander Veer Botanical Park, Davenport. 
Meditation. Just the word conjures up images of closed eyes, serene faces and stillness. That image can change, however, when those faces belong to children.

Their bodies may wriggle, giggles may erupt and they may peek to see what their neighbor is up to. That doesn't mean, however, that they aren't benefiting from meditation.

Karen Miranda, who teaches meditation for children at the Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center in Davenport, usually starts her classes with some casual conversation. The children are welcome to discuss whatever comes to mind — school, Pokemon, their recent trip to the library — whatever pops into their minds is fair game.

Once the children get comfortable, Miranda draws them into a short meditation — just a few minutes, something young minds accustomed to constant stimulation are able to follow.

"Most kids settle in pretty quickly and join in the conversation and discussion. After the first meditation, they usually talk about how hard or easy they felt it was," she says.

Miranda defines meditation as focusing the mind pointedly on a single object without distraction. That focus brings peace and stillness.

"From this peace and stillness arises a feeling of true happiness. It is a happiness that comes from within and is not dependent upon our external conditions. We can also learn to watch our mind and gain more control over our mind," she says.

Children can experience the same benefits as adults do, and those benefits can provide them with the tools they need to deal with their everyday lives.

"During the meditation practice, we generate a peaceful mind. Eventually, we are able to carry this for longer and longer periods of time outside the mediation practice. This makes it easier to deal with problems that arise in our daily activities," she says. "We have had a few children discuss the benefits of being more focused and having better concentration. They've noticed how it has helped them with their studying."

Miranda is not the only one to have seen these benefits. The David Lynch Foundation has conducted studies on this very topic. The foundation, according to its website, is an organization that funds the implementation of scientifically proven stress-reducing modalities for at-risk populations such as underserved, inner-city students. 

Quiet Time, a program the foundation uses to focus on meditation as an alternate method for reducing classroom stress, has produced measurable proof that meditation is advantageous for children.

During Quiet Time, children meditate for 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the school day. According to foundation executive director Bob Roth, there has been a 90-percent reduction in suspensions and expulsions in the classrooms the foundation has studied. Roth also cites an improvement in test scores: 28 percent in math, and 70 percent in reading comprehension.

In addition, those who meditate typically experience a 30- to 40-percent drop in the levels of the
stress hormones cortisol and prolactin, as well as an increase in serotonin, a chemical that 
is believed to help balance moods and ward off depression.

"With 10 million children in our country under the age of 12 on antidepressants, this is naturally beneficial," Roth says.

Miranda says there is no magic age for a child to begin practicing meditation, and that it depends on the child. "We have had children as young as 3 at our classes, and they did a great job with a short meditation," she says.

"The best way to find out if your child is ready to mediate is to just bring them to a class. Let them experience it and see how it goes."

Miranda says meditation is a great activity for families to do together, and sometimes smaller children like to sit on the parent's lap, she says. "Even though the classes are geared toward children, the technique is the same no matter your age. Everyone can benefit."

Miranda adds that although Lamrim is a Buddhist center with a focus on Buddha's teachings, meditation is suitable for anyone, and everyone is welcome.

Children's meditation classes meet on Sundays from 11 to 11:45 a.m. at the Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center, at 502 W. 3rd St., Davenport, on the second floor. At the Iowa City branch, classes are on Thursdays from 5:45 to 6:15 p.m. at the Quaker's Friends Meeting House, 311 N. Linn St., Iowa City. The cost is $5 per child, with a maximum fee of $10 per family. Pre-registration is not required.

Chris Cashion is a writer on staff with Radish. For more information about the Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center and meditation in general, visit their booth at the Healthy Living Fair, or 

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Lamrim Kadampa Buddhist Center

301 E. 2nd St.(Peterson Paper Building), Davenport, IA 52801
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A member of the New Kadampa Tradition - International Kadampa Buddhist Union.

Meditation classes in Iowa & Kids Meditation Story in Radish magazine 2016.