Kids Meditating – In and Out of Caves

Guest post by Mallika Chopra

As the world jubilantly celebrates the rescued soccer boys and their coach from the cave in Thailand, the power of meditation has emerged as a potential factor in maintaining their physical and emotional health. The story demonstrates how powerful meditation for caregivers (parents, teachers, coaches) and kids can help with the everyday stresses that we face in today’s world.

Research has validated many of the benefits of meditation. During a meditation practice, blood pressure and metabolism decrease, and heart rate and breathing are more efficient. Meditation also helps reduce anxiety and depression, and improves concentration.

Ekapol Chanthawong, the 25-year old coach who trained as a monk, seems to have been able to maintain calm in a situation that would create panic for most people.

His long-term practice of meditation could have helped him process the survival needs of the group in a more strategic way. Normally, in dangerous situations, the body reacts through the fight flight response where the heart beat races, muscles tense up, and adrenaline rises, to physically escape, or through a freeze response where the body and mind collapse. Meditation helps transition from the fight flight freeze response – which can be debilitating – to a more thoughtful approach using parts of the brain that problem solve. From initial reports, it seems the coach maintained calm, and guided the children in practices that helped them face the odds physically and emotionally better.

In meditation, the heart rate slows down, and oxygen consumption is less. Cortisol levels, which increase in stressful situations, are reduced, as well. Leading the boys in meditation, the coach could have helped them to physically survive better in a confined, airtight space with limited oxygen. In deep meditation, people often feel an expansiveness of space and limitlessness in time. This experience for the boys could have helped with claustrophobia and the long, dark, uncertain hours.

Parents and teachers can learn from Ekapol how a personal meditation practice can influence children at home or in the classroom. Through meditation caregivers can maintain calm, feel more empathy, and generally feel more anchored and rested. Children learn best through example and role modeling, and a serene, empathetic, happy adult will influence kids to explore the benefits of meditation practices for themselves.

By teaching kids meditation and mindfulness techniques, they will be empowered to self-regulate better when anxious or depressed, focus and problem solve better, improve their sleep for health and rejuvenation, and gain the many physical benefits of these practices. Meditation for kids should be simple – beginning with a deep, conscious breaths, body awareness or just being mindful while walking or eating.

As the stories of the practices the boys and coaches did to survive emerge, there are indeed many lessons for all of us to survive better every day.

 

Mallika Chopra’s new book, “Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement and More”, is available for pre-sale and arrives in August 2018! Learn more about this guide to meditation for children and families by watching the trailer below: