Teens Learn Firsthand the Benefits of Meditation

teen meditation photo

Teens find stress reduction and self awareness. Two benefits of meditation.

If only I had understood the benefits of meditation when I was a teen. All those hormones, all that fear running rampant through my veins. Everything seemed like the end of the world. Heartbreaks cut deeper, frenemies were meaner, all before you had acquired any sort of self awareness. It’s an awkward stage that can result in far too much stress. That’s why the benefits of meditation would be all the more important at this life stage.

Now, a breadth of new research has led more teens to give meditation a try. In fact, seasoned meditator, comedian and author Russell Brand, recently led a meditation at Sala Burton Academic High School in San Francisco. Officials at the high school said that thanks to teen meditation, teen violence has been reduced and academic performance has improved, reported on ABC News.

A 2011 study by a team of researchers at Harvard found that first time meditators were able to grow gray matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self awareness and shrink gray matter in the areas of the brain responsible for stress.

Elisha Goldstein and wife Stephanie developed the Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness (CALM) program which uses mindfulness to give teens a crash course in how to deal with life’s stress and disappointments. The program takes into account a teen’s shorter attention span by including activities like hiking and music.

“So there’s this incredible opportunity to lay the foundation to experience a sense of personal control, so you cultivate a sense of emotional intelligence and to learn how to connect with people in meaningful ways and that lays the foundation for the adult years that follow,” he said to ABC News.

In the past decade we’ve become so engrossed in our devices and social media. These two distractions along with televisions and working too many hours takes us away from the present moment. We’ve got so much going on that we hardly stop to take a breath, let alone be mindful. But at the same time, there’s also a sense of rebellion against our device-driven world. Meditation is just one aspect of this response. And I can’t think of a more exciting trend.

I can’t even imagine being a teen today in the age of social media. One misstep and it ends up online for the world to see. Bullying has become virtual and as a result, that much more vicious. By providing teens with the tools to deal with their emotions in a thoughtful way we’re setting them up for a much happier existence later in life. It’s difficult for teens to deal with the severity of their emotions. Meditation provides perspective and self awareness for adults and teens alike. I only wish I had known this 15 years ago.

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Image: Caleb Roenigk