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founded by S. N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin

 

 

 

 

 

Anapana and Children

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Experiences of Course Participants

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History and Spread of Children Courses

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Select Questions & Answers with Mr. S. N. Goenka

At what age could I start to teach my child to meditate?

Mr. S. N. Goenka: Before birth. Meditation should be taught when the child is growing in the womb. The child needs good vibrations while in the womb, so practise Vipassana. Every pregnant mother should practise more Vipassana because then you are helping two beings simultaneously. You are helping yourself, and you are helping the being which has not yet come out. Help them.

After that, when the child grows to five or six you can start teaching Anapana. Just be aware of the respiration for a few minutes; two, three, five minutes, enough. Don’t push too much. A few minutes of awareness of respiration, and then say; "All right, play." After that, again a few minutes of respiration. So it will become like playing for the child. Later on, as he or she grows, increase the time. In this way you start giving the seed of Dhamma, and the child develops in an atmosphere of Dhamma. 

What is your feeling about teaching Dhamma to children?

Mr. S. N. Goenka: The best time for that is before birth of the child. During pregnancy the mother should practice Vipassana, so that the child also receives it and is born a Dhamma child. But if you already have children, you can still share Dhamma with them. If your children are very young (below age 8), direct your mettā (the technique of Metta-Bhavana to share the vibrations of goodwill and compassion to all beings, taught on the 10th morning of the Vipassana course) to them after every sitting and at their bedtime. In this way, they also benefit from your practice of Dhamma. And when you are older, explain a little about Dhamma to them in a way that they can understand and accept. If they can understand it a little more, then teach them anapana for a few minutes. Don't pressure the children in any way. Just let them sit with you, observe their breath for a few minutes, and then go and play. The meditation will be like play to them; they will enjoy it. And the most important is that you must live a healthy Dhamma life yourself, you must set a good example for your children. In your home, you must establish a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere which will help them grow into healthy and happy people. This is the best thing you can do for your children.

Is it necessary to introduce Vipassana into education?

Mr. S. N. Goenka: Certainly. Vipassana is the practical science of living. The next generation must learn this science at a very young age, so that they can live a very healthy life, a harmonious life. If they understand pure Dhamma, the law of nature, they will live according to the law of nature. When children are taught Vipassana in the schools and colleges, as it is being done now in some cities, there are very good results.

Kindly give a few words on how students can use Vipassana.

Mr. S. N. Goenka: We have found good results from students who have started practising even the first part of Vipassana, concentration of mind. Their memory has become sharper, their ability to understand a subject has improved, the comprehending part of their mind has gotten better, and their nervousness has decreased. All these are very helpful to them in their studies. And along with those, character-building starts from the very beginning.

You have started giving training in Anapana in some schools. How will this training benefit children?

Mr. S. N. Goenka: Actually the entire teaching has only one purpose: One should live peacefully and harmoniously in accordance with the law of nature—not harming oneself or others. Now this art of living is difficult to learn in old age, so the training should start at a young age. In the schools children should learn the art of living a healthy life. Their entire life is ahead of them.

You start by teaching them how to control their minds. Along with this awareness of respiration it is explained that you have to live a moral life, so they understand, "I must not kill, I must not steal, etc. But how can I abstain from that? I must have control over my mind. And look, this helps." The object that is given is universal so a student from any caste, any community, any religion can work on this.

You also tell them that they can develop in this awareness of respiration and then they will live a good life. At further stages they can purify their minds to such an extent that they will live a perfect life, so there is a goal. In school for example, when they learn the alphabet the goal is that they will become very learned people later on. Now they have started with this base of sīla and respiration. 

Do you think that by this training children can become good citizens?

Mr. S. N. Goenka: What is a good citizen? A good citizen is one who does not harm himself or herself and also does not harm other members of society. The whole teaching shows how to live a life of morality. If children start learning this in childhood, when they become adults they will naturally live healthy, good lives. This is how they will become good citizens. 

How can we remove thoughts of lust while we are studying?                 

Mr. S. N. Goenka: Not only while studying, but all the time! Lust is lust; it is harmful. Love should be pure love. Pure love is one-way traffic; you don’t expect anything in return. Dharma, Vipassana, will help this lust to turn into pure love—pure love is without a trace of passion. Pure love is full of compassion. 

I am a college student and I come here for Vipassana meditation. When I go back, my teacher says, "You are too young to practice meditation." What should I do in such a situation?

Mr. S. N. Goenka: You are not at fault; your teacher is mistaken. There is a wrong concept in our country that things like meditation should be practiced in the fourth and last period of life. This is wrong. At that time the body becomes very weak, the mind becomes weak, all the sense organs become weak—you cannot practice properly. Actually, yours is the age when one should start practicing meditation because it is an art of living. Then through the rest of one’s life this meditation will be so helpful. So continue to meditate whatever your teacher says. Don’t worry. 

 

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Related Short Films

Few short films have been prepared on Anapana meditation courses for children. It documents modern children’s experiences with Anapana, the course process and its impact. Participants, parents and teachers talk about how Anapana helps in dealing with the pressures of school, family and everyday life. In simple language, they speak about the challenges of Anapana and the benefits: calmness, improved concentration and compassion.  The aim is to show the relevance of Anapana to young audiences. Old students came forward with various professional skills to work on different aspects of films. They donated time, talent and effort. The result is a moving account of how an ancient meditation technique can work today for children and people of any age.

The Compass, Children Learn Vipassana (English)

A short film on Anapana meditation for school children. It documents modern children’s experiences with Anapana, the course process and its impact. Participants, parents and teachers talk about how Anapana helps in dealing with the pressures of school, family and everyday life. In simple language, they speak about the challenges of Anapana and the benefits: calmness, improved concentration and compassion.

 

Seeds of Awareness (English)

A short film on Anapana meditation for school children. It documents modern children’s experiences with Anapana, the course process and its impact. Participants, parents and teachers talk about how Anapana helps in dealing with the pressures of school, family and everyday life. In simple language, they speak about the challenges of Anapana and the benefits: calmness, improved concentration and compassion.

(Copyright, California Vipassana Center)

 

Time to Breathe (English)

An introduction to Anapana courses at the centre in Hereford, UK. It documents modern children’s experiences with Anapana, the course process and its impact. Participants, parents and teachers talk about how Anapana helps in dealing with the pressures of school, family and everyday life. In simple language, they speak about the challenges of Anapana and the benefits: calmness, improved concentration and compassion.

(Copyright, 2008 UK Vipassana Trust)

Meditation for Young Minds (English)

This short film, filmed at a high school in Malaysia, provides details about Anapana courses in school.

Anapana Course for children with Hearing and Speech impairment (English)

A Short film on Anapana meditation for hearing and speech impaired children. It has been filmed at the centre in Pune, India with students from Ruia Special school.