Children need to find stillness

Children need to find moments of stillness in their lives. Stillness, as it happens, is not hard to find, because it is always there, but to experience it we do need to pause, to stop. Stop thinking, worrying, doing, striving, and for a moment, just BE. Just for a moment allow the senses to open out, listen to the sounds that fill the present moment. Breathe deeply, and rest. Rest from the sheer effort of being a person with all the demand on “performance” which that entails.

So many children I encounter are beset with worries and fears, ranging from meteors hitting the earth to pollution, crime, exams and tests, and personal difficulties like ADHD, bullying and depression. “I just wish I could take some time off,” said one boy, who is finding the pace of work too hectic.

Many children are so stressed that they become ill, needing to spend time at home, only to return to school and have to face all the work that has piled up. We can’t always take time off, but it is always possible to take a moment off. Take a couple of deep breaths, sit quietly, close the eyes, listen to sounds both near and far. I teach children to do this at any time, even in the classroom, even when the teacher is handing out exam papers. In that moment there is after all, just the sound of footsteps and paper sliding onto desks. So much better to be calm before writing an exam.

Being still is a receptive yet active state. It opens the mind to creativity, clear thinking and better problem solving, builds emotional intelligence, and lessens fear, real or imagined. In stillness a child can, for a moment, feel free, safe, powerful even.

Stillness can be introduced into games, or even in the middle of a heated debate. Just say ‘FREEZE’, in mid-action. Children love this game. Being still is not the same as doing nothing, (Watch the latest Karate Kid movie for this message) It is about being focussed. It is that “being in the zone” that sportsmen talk about. “Driving around a hairpin bend at top speed is the most peaceful experience for me,” said an ace racing driver. But like anything else, if we want to have this capacity to focus, we need to practise. Build up some stillness stamina by remembering every now and then to pause.

“You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait. You need not even wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” FRANZ KAFKA

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Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 9:23 am  Leave a Comment