Is meditation key to our children's happiness? With anxiety levels at an all-time high, experts think it should be taught in schools.
Mindfulness has gone mainstream, with more people than ever focusing on self-improvement and mental wellbeing.
Rising levels of anxiety among young people in particular has left many parents wondering whether to introduce their children to meditation.
"Our young people need this more than any other age group,” says meditation expert Kasey Todd. “What I see in kids post meditation is happiness and excitement."
To introduce meditation to children, Kasey says:
1. Don't associate the practice as a daily chore, rather a reward for getting through their day. It should be something they get excited to do.
2. Avoid phrases like 'clearing your mind' and 'stopping your thoughts' - your child is going to have thoughts, don't set them up to fail.
3. Establish a routine, whether that's using a meditation cushion, blanket, music or space, or maybe a candle - kids love props and are more likely to get involved.
4. Start small - introduce a 2-3 minute meditation first. Even start out with some simple reflective gratitude practice questions over dinner or bedtime (one thing that went well today, one person they feel thankful for, one thing they're looking forward tomorrow.)
5. Downtime between after school and dinner is the best place to start. You know in yourself as an adult, 3pm is the time we reach for a snack and feel a bit foggy - it's the best time to meditate.
Kasey is a former PE teacher who turned to meditation while recovering from a car accident. She’s now spreading mindfulness with Happy Waves.
Happy Waves is a new meditation and mindfulness lifestyle app from founders Nick Bracks, Davis Yu and Boyd Martin. It gives users access to guided meditations as well as targeted lessons.
The content is specifically tailored to kids, following studies that found benefits such as being more focused, creative, a better communicator and having a superior memory.
"Each lesson has a different purpose, undertone, length and even personality," Kasey says. "As a parent, if you really want to tailor to your child, you can listen first, but we tried to eliminate the guessing game."
While using an app on a screen may not seem like the obvious choice to help calm a child, content is listed in themes such as Happy Colour to promote creativity and Mindful Bodies to calm the energetic, hyperactive kids that can't sit still for long.
Some may ask if children should be meditating at all. It’s easy to dismiss as a new-age fad for those who where simply encouraged to play outdoors growing up.
Happy Waves founders Nick Bracks, Davis Yu and Boyd Martin
"No longer is meditation associated with monks and hippies and no longer is mindfulness a word people don't quite understand," Kasey explains.
"Our role models are embracing meditation - elite sporting clubs, actors. We can't get enough of what makes us feel good, and meditation is definitely one of those things.
“One in four young people have a mental illness, one in three of our young girls have anxiety - 65% are not seeking help.
"Meditation is a tool we have on hand that assists us to let go, relax our bodies and calm our minds and to just be ourselves."
As for the future of mental wellbeing awareness, Kasey wants meditation and mindfulness on the curriculum for young people by 2020.
She adds: "I expect to see a backflip in our social media usage and as a result we will have a much more mindful community.
“Busy is no longer desirable or glorified with success - those who are happy and content will be the epitome of success."
Happy Waves is available on the App Store and offers a subscription service for $18.99 a month.