I've known a number of atheistic/agnostic parents who struggled with what to teach their children--if anything--about spirituality, deism and prayer. How about a no-God-required spiritual tradition that might be therapeutic for stress, anxiety and attention disorders?
The Big Mind Zen Center in Salt Lake City now offers meditation classes for children (and parents). For just $25 per month--classes are every Tuesday night--kids learn the practice of meditation.
Unlike many aspects of faith and spirituality, meditation has been studied by science and shown to have a host of likely beneficial results. Unlike bible-thumpers who think evolution science is blasphemy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for example, has partnered with research scientists because he has strong faith--and some data to prove it--that meditation is a healthy exercise.
One study--albeit not a study on children--found that after just three months of rigorous meditation training, there are observable changes in brain function and attention. Other studies have found meditation improves stress and the immune system.
The most exciting finding for parents, perhaps, is that meditation can help with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, as well as stress and anxiety, according to a study that followed meditating junior high kids for three months.
I'm no Ph.d., but my assessment of the science suggests there's more that should be done on meditation before we're absolutely convinced that it's remarkably healthy--the placebo effect is so dang powerful--but there are very promising signs that it's good for you beyond the effects of placebo. And among placebos--even if that's all that it is--its incredibly non-toxic!
It might get your kid to shut up for awhile--no movies or video games (or God) required.
And when they say kids--they mean kids. All are welcome, even toddlers.
From the Zen Center:
There is now a Tuesday evening "Meditation Practice for Kids"
- Teaches sitting and moving meditation
- Teaches the proper sitting positions
- Encourages kids to share their experiences
- Introduces kids to the basics of Zen
- Assures kids that they have a unique gift to offer to this world and hopes to empower them to go for it!
- And we HAVE FUN!
WHEN: Tuesday evenings 5:30-6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Big Mind Zen Center: 1274 E South Temple, Salt Lake City
Register in the office or at the door.
For more information on Big Mind Zen Center, go to bigmind.org