52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 26: Add Meditation to Your Routine

52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 26: Add Meditation to Your Routine

Come on, how often can you do something the Dalai Lama and Katie Perry both love? Just the fact that meditation is a must-do for both the spiritual leader and the pop music star should be enough to convince your family to give the ages-old art of mindfully focusing on the present moment a try. But situational irony isn’t the only reason to tap into regular meditation. Meditation can help your homeschool take a turn for the happier in a few different ways.

Meditation helps your brain work better. One downside of modern life’s constant multitasking is that it can bog down brain function. During adolescence, kids train their brains to think critically and analyze information, a process that requires focus on one topic at a time. Switching back and forth between your iTunes playlist, texting about theater practice, and memorizing biology facts can actually stop your brain from building the deep neural connections associated with sophisticated thought. It can be hard to focus on a single subject when so much information is so easily accessible, but people who meditate can hold their concentration better than those who don’t, found researchers at the University of Washington. Meditating for just ten minutes a day made people faced with a to-do list less distractible and better able to stay focused on one task a time. (And in case you were curious, meditating super-focusers finished their task lists at the same time as those who multitasked their way through the list.)

Meditation helps reduce stress. You can train your brain to manage stress more effectively the same way you train your body to run a marathon, says Richard Davidson, M.D., author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain. Even just a fifteen-minute-a-day meditation session made test subjects at the University of Massachusetts feel calmer and less worried during exams than their non-meditating peers. Students started out consciously using the breathing and concentration techniques they used during meditation to calm themselves pre-test, but after eight weeks of regular meditation, they calmed themselves without thinking about it.

Meditation can boost your memory power. Worried about falling into the memorize-it- for-the-test-and-then-forget-it trap? Meditation can help. Researchers at the University of Washington discovered that students who meditated before tackling a list of projects were better able to remember the information they worked on than students who didn’t meditate, even when both groups spent the same amount of time on task, suggesting that meditation strengthens the effectiveness of your working memory.

Meditation can help manage mood swings. Adolescent mood swings are the stuff of legend, but teens who meditate are better able to deal with the hormonal upheaval. A combination of deep breathing and meditation helped teens manage mood swings and improve their overall moods in a study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Meditation can bolster self esteem. As any John Hughes film will tell you, being a teenager can be hard. Meditation may help smooth some of those rough edges, if a study in this spring’s global Journal of Health Science is any indication. In the Korean study, kids who meditated reported higher self-esteem and adapted more easily to new situations than those who didn’t practice meditation. Solid self-esteem can make it easier for kids to form relationships, make smart choices about things like sex and drugs, and improve overall confidence. 

Your challenge this week: Just getting started with meditation? One of the simplest ways to ease into the practice is lying down with a small stone on your stomach. Focus on the stone and its movements as you breathe in and out.

Stuff We Like 2.5.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

We’re busy, busy, busy around here — diving into the spring issue, making some big plans for this summer, booking a spring vacation, and getting into a high-intensity homeschool mode (which happens when one of the kids gets obsessed with a certain topic). It’s the good, happy kind of busy, which I love.

around the web

I totally believe in the health benefits of knitting. (It’s like meditation for people who have to be doing something to relax.)

And speaking of, I completely relate to this hilarious guided meditation for the anxious mind.

I’m slow getting around to reading "The Myth of Easy Cooking", but it’s so true! Sometimes dinner is just fuel, and that should be okay.

I’ve heard more than once that homeschooling is hard on schools because it means active parents are funneling their resources into homeschooling rather than into improving local schools, so I found this piece about rich parents, fundraising, and school inequality fascinating.


at home/school/life

in the magazine: The first articles for the spring issue are in!

on the blog: I really identify with Lisa's post about the joy of following your kids' passions.

on pinterest: I’m kind of in love with the idea of making tea time a thing. I feel like we need more regular rhythms right now. 


reading list

I have rarely looked forward to reading a book as much as I am looking forward to reading Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which Suzanne swears is a Jane-Austen-P.G.-Wodehouse-Georgette-Heyer delight but also with magic. It’s at the top of my weekend to-do list.

Speaking of delightful, we loved The Goblin’s Puzzle as a readaloud. I should give it a proper review.

A perfect combination: Bill Bryson + William Shakespeare in Shakespeare: The World as Stage. (It’s looking like a summer of Shakespeare at Casa Sharony.)


at home

This has been the season of frogging in my knitting life. I frogged my White Russian so that I could slim down the shouldersand just haven’t gotten the motivation to cast back on for that big cowl neck yet. And I frogged my Zick Zack scarf because as much as I loved it, I kept thinking that I would love it even more if there was more color and size variation in the stripes. That one I cast back on pretty much immediately, and I am so much happier with it, even though I have to reknit for miles to catch back up to where I was.

Apparently physical therapy makes me want to eat all the time. I cannot get enough roasted chickpeas or soy sauce eggs. (I use the recipe from Lucky Peach’s 101 Easy Asian Recipes, which is reprinted at the link, and they are totally addictive. Actually, this whole cookbook is pretty great.)

For Settlers of Catan nachos, I will even pretend to watch the Super Bowl.