Mind-altering benefits of meditation for teens
Parenting teenagers is no easy task and can be quite challenging. One moment they are carrying the groceries for you without you asking them to and the next they are slamming their bedroom door because you expect them to empty the dishwasher and, well, don’t you know how much homework they have? It is like they have a split personality that shifts in the blink of an eye, leaving you reeling and wondering where your sweet innocent child went.
But think back to when you were a teenager. Yes, it’s a time most of us would just as soon forget, but I’m sure we all remember when our hormones were all over the map and we felt confused, unsure of our place in the world, and sometimes even alone. These days, there is so much responsibility heaped onto teens and they lead such busy lives, it’s a wonder they don’t run and hide under their blankets.
In the US, an astonishing 32% of teens today have an anxiety disorder and nearly 15% suffer from depression and bipolar disorder. On a global scale, the World Health Organization reports 10-20% of adolescents experience a mental health disorder that, in most cases, develops by the time they reach the age of 14. That’s a rough way to transition into adulthood, a time in life that is already challenging. Fortunately, there is a way to help your teens. Meditation. Yes, meditation is just as beneficial for teens as it is for adults.
During the teenage years, the brain is still growing and developing, and the frontal lobe has a difficult time communicating with the amygdala, the part of the brain that causes impulsiveness. Just 15 minutes of meditation a day can help improve this communication by rewiring the brain. Yes, meditation literally makes the brain form new neural connections. This will help teens take time to think before making a decision, rather than acting rashly. In addition to that, meditation can help teens:
- Improve concentration and focus
- Become mindful of their thoughts, so they can change negative thoughts to positive thoughts
- Reduce stress, depression, and anxiety
- Become more mindful of the world around them and of their own bodies
- Improve empathy
- Improve performance on tests and exams and improve their grades
When introducing meditation to your teen, take it slowly. Start with just 1 minute of meditation and slowly lengthen the time each day. A meditation session can go like this:
- Sit or lie down in a quiet place.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply, focusing on each breath.
- Focus your mind on something specific.
- Whenever the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the focus.
The focus of the meditation can be anything your teen wants. Their breathing, an image, a mantra, a positive affirmation. It will take time to get used to meditation, but the benefits are incredible and that few minutes a day will change their world. Best of all, it is something you can do along with your teen and enjoy those great benefits, too.