“It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that parenting can be stressful. My life as a mother is often a blur. That’s why I feel unbelievably fortunate to have a technique in my daily routine to manage that stress.
“I learned the Transcendental Meditation technique when I was a child and have been practicing it for most of my life. As life changes and adds new dimensions—school, work, relationships, motherhood—my TM practice has remained a constant that keeps me centred. When the pace of life accelerates, it is easy to lose focus on the bigger picture and get lost in the details, yet my daily meditation gives me perspective. It gives me the ability to check in with myself, to stay authentic, real, and true to myself, in a world where my roles are constantly shifting.”
So writes Mira Daniels, mother of two boys, a business owner and active community member. We asked Mira to share her thoughts and experience with the TM technique as a tool for enhancing the lives of both parents and children, in light of the recent publication of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. The Amazon bestseller, by Bill Stixrud PhD and Ned Johnson, offers a combination of cutting-edge brain science, the latest discoveries in behavioural therapy, and case studies drawn from the thousands of kids and teens the authors have helped over the years.
One of their recommendations? To meditate and encourage our children to do the same.
Stixrud and Johnson write, “Practicing meditation is increasingly important as changes in the world trigger higher levels of anger and fear, and advances in technology quicken the pace of life, giving us little time to simply “be” with ourselves. While TM involves no attempt to control the mind, it increases practitioners’ internal locus of control. It does this, in part, by allowing the brain to refresh itself, which enables it to keep things in perspective. It also reduces the extent to which we feel overwhelmed and allows our minds to work more efficiently, increasing the effectiveness with which we tackle challenging situations and our confidence that we can handle the challenges life throws our way.”
Keeping things in perspective is especially important for parents, because, as Daniels put it, “As a parent, when I am stressed, it not only affects me, but these two little people who are counting on me to shepherd them through life. It’s all too easy to let go of self-care as a parent, yet I can’t be a good example for my boys if I’m not taking care of myself. My TM practice is a lifeline, really—the rest and the renewed energy I feel afterwards is nothing short of miraculous.”
She continued, “It’s my job to teach my children right from wrong, to help them become well-rounded people who care deeply and love fiercely and do wonderful things to help the world become a better place. To do all of that, I have to lead by example, and cultivate a tool set for them to build positive connections and confidence inside themselves as well as on the outside Children have such rich inner lives; it is so important to support them in developing confidence in their sense of self.”
Stixrud and Johnson point out that “Although kids rarely beg their parents to find them a meditation teacher, research indicates that when they establish a practice, meditation benefits them just as it does adults.” And what are those benefits? “Many years of research on TM has shown that kids who meditate for as little as ten or fifteen minutes twice a day will experience a significant reduction in stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms and express less anger and hostility. They sleep better, think more creatively, are healthier, have higher self-esteem, and do better in school and on tests of cognitive and academic skills.”
“This is why having my kids learn the TM technique has been so rewarding for me,” writes Daniels, “Every day I get to see them cultivate their own self-care routine, their own relationship with their inner-self. Parents always want to give their kids the best, so they can to set them up for success in life. This meditation practice is something that I know will be so vital for them in every phase of their lives. How often do you come across something that will give your children the gift of being able to take a step back, to de-stress and find calm amidst the chaos of life? I am forever grateful to know that no matter what life throws at them, they will have a way to keep true to themselves and find their own big picture.”
TM practice is only one of the many insights and suggestions in The Self-Driven Child – If you’d like to read more, you can purchase a copy of the book from Amazon or at your favourite book store.
“If you still have questions about whether or not excessive pressure and a narrow version of success are truly harming our children, The Self-Driven Child is an absolute must-read. While most books on the impact of stress on child development offer anecdotes and clinical examples, Stixrud and Johnson make it clear that it is now research that explains why kids don’t thrive under our current priorities. A healthy child needs a healthy brain. Not only do they produce the evidence that shows why unremitting achievement pressure is toxic to our children, they also show us what the alternative would look like. It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most radical and important books on raising healthy, resilient, purpose-driven kids.” – Madeline Levine PhD, author of The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well.