Children's meditation course to improve brain function

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A freelance children's meditation instructor is giving Kenyan kids a chance to experience the benefits of Anapana mediation which according to a University of California study is said to improve behaviour, attention, focus and subsequently test scores.

Organised by The Vipassana Centre, the children's meditation course will see Kenyan kids learn the techniques of Anapana meditation.
“Anapana meditation basically involves focusing on one's breathing. It actually comes from two words; ana which means inhale and apana which means exhale,” said Saryu Varia, a freelance Anapana meditation instructor who will be in running the session.

The University of California conducted a study on second and third-graders who practiced 'mindful' meditation which urges one to fix their mind on the present. After eight weeks of bi-weekly 30 minute sessions, the children were found to have improved behaviour. They were also found to have scored higher on tests that required  memory, attention and focus as compared to the children who did not meditate. It is these benefits that Varia would like to see children gain from the course.

Unlike other forms of meditation, Anapana appeals to many because it is not linked to any religion.
“In Anapana, there is no chanting or visualizing a god. It instead focuses on one's breathing,” said Varia.

The technique used in Anapana meditation involves concentrating on one's breathing through inhalation and exhalation.
“We concentrate the mind on the nostrils and basically watch the breath, the air that goes in the nostrils and the air that comes out of the nostrils,” said Varia.

The one hour meditation class encourages children to simply relax which according to Varia has profound benefits on the children.
“The children who participate in this session have become calmer. Those who used to be fidgety in class become more restive and settled in class because their minds are more clear. Some of them even report better academic performance,” she said.

The benefits reported can even be cognitive as in the case of one child who according to Varia stopped having nightmares which she attributes to the mind not being overly active.

Varia, who offers the classes says Anapana meditation is not a one-off event but should rather become a lifestyle.
“My classes are just to teach the children the technique but after wards I encourage children to take 10 minutes off their day to meditate and even get their parents involved,” said Varia.

Varia also offers a 10 day meditation course free of charge and is available to offer them in schools too. The children's meditation instructor who was a teacher for over 30 years sees it as her way of giving back to society.
“Anapana meditation creates a calmer, balanced mind which is helpful for fostering peaceful, disciplined communities and future generations and if I can help somebody else improve through my instruction then I am happy,” she said.

The former teacher also adds that the she already worked and therefore does not need the money that is why she offers her courses for free and it also helps keep her busy.

The children's meditation course will take place on Sunday 25th October 2015 from 9am to 3.30pm The course targets children between the ages of 8 and 18 years but divides them during the course into three age groups.  Morning snacks and lunch will also be provided. The course will be held at Kolping Center in Karen.Those interested in applying may do so on line or call Saryu Varia on 0720 208 415.

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