The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) - Taking the lead in teaching meditation to children and young people
(Reproduced with adaptations from items on the Mediatio and WCCM websites - see below )
Meditation is more a discipline than a technique: a discipline is simply a way of learning. Meditation teaches how to see life as learning.
For ten years members of WCCM have been teaching meditation in schools (primary to secondary) – first in Australia and now in 29 other countries.
In June 2016 Meditatio, the outreach of WCCM, hosted an international seminar on Meditation with Children in London to highlight both what has been learned from this long experience and the universal need for nurturing the spiritual life of children with a practical discipline of silence, stillness and simplicity.
Children and young people take to meditation with great enthusiasm. They can and like to meditate. Schools, teachers and parents – and children themselves – testify to the fruits and benefits of the practice. Ideally the children are first introduced to meditation at elementary level and given the opportunity to develop a daily practice during their school years. The fruits of a regular practice are self-authenticating and self-evident. Most children say that they then choose to meditate in their own time – in their bedrooms, in the back of the car, in playtime.
The question today is therefore not ‘why should we teach meditation in schools?’ but ‘why on earth don’t we?’ The challenge is not to teach the children but to teach the teachers to teach the children and so realise the innate contemplative gift that children have. In helping children develop meditation as part of their life we are not only helping to transmit faith but we are giving them a life-skill that is essential for coping with the challenges and dysfunctions of the modern world.
Because meditation is the common ground of all wisdom traditions it can be taught in appropriate ways to a multi-faith group of children — as most schools now are very diverse. This gives meditation a special place in harmonising our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society; it is a silent — and transformative — meeting point where words and symbols temporarily give way to silence, which is a powerful common bond of understanding.
Children today are exposed to adult pressures and the addictions of digital entertainment at very early ages. Meditation simply and immediately helps them to cope and survive these forces. Teachers notice the benefits very quickly in classes and schools where meditation becomes part of the regular experience of the children. The children report that they like to meditate in their own time.
The ‘story of silence’ unfolding through the work of teaching meditation to children in thirty countries within the World Community highlights the importance of principals, teachers and parents in passing on — through the wisdom of Christian meditation — the inestimable gift of silence and stillness in a fragmented and distracted world.
Here is a simple practice where it takes a few minutes to explain how to meditate. But it takes a lifetime to enjoy the full fruits of the spirit where ‘experience is the true teacher.’ To introduce children to meditation, we need the courage and confidence to believe, as Jesus said, that the mysteries of the Kingdom are disclosed to the simple. ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’
For more information see:www.meditatio.co.uk/education and www.wccm.org
A report, The Heart of Education: Meditation with Children and Young People (June 2016) is also available via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7278 2070