Meditation will help children discover the presence of Jesus in their inner being. They will then “experience the unconditional love of God, which in turn will give them the comfort and confidence to meet the challenges of life”.
Archbishop Nicholas Chia said this to about 300 teachers, parents and catechists during a forum titled The Gift of Peace – Christian Meditation and Sharing It with Children.
The forum, held at St Joseph’s Institution (Independent) on July 14, was organised by the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) Singapore.
In his speech, Archbishop Chia noted that children in Singapore today suffer from much stress and anxiety. They are distracted by the Internet and various activities, and these undermine their attention capacity as well as their capacity to relate to others.
Meditation can give them the gift of peace they need, he said.
During the forum, Fr Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk and WCCM director, led participants in two meditation sessions, saying that meditation is “experiential rather than theoretical”.
Teachers and parents will not be able to teach children to meditate if they do not practise it themselves, he said. Children take naturally to the simplicity of meditation – they are natural meditators, he added.
Dr Cathy Day and Mr Ernie Christie, who have implemented a Christian Meditation programme in all Catholic schools in Australia’s Townsville diocese, also shared their experiences.
Inspired by their own experience of meditation, they had approached their bishop explaining why teaching meditation in schools would be good for students.
Today, the diocese invests A$120,000 (S$155,000) annually in Christian meditation formation programmes for teachers and students, from the age of five upwards.
According to Dr Day and Mr Christie, symptoms of anxiety and tendency to drug abuse have dropped as a result. The children are also better able to cope with their life circumstances and are more involved with the needs and concerns of others.
In class they are more attentive and can focus better, said the speakers.
On the local scene, Ms Terry Theseira, principal of Canossian School, said that hearing-impaired children at her school have taken to meditation very naturally.
Meditation is also progressively being introduced to all the Canossian schools and the Canossaville Children’s Home, and the benefits to the children are evident, she said.
Other speakers from overseas shared their experience of introducing “quiet time” to children, ranging from those in kindergarten to 14-year-olds in catechism classes.
By Stella Kon