Thanks to Olivier Madelrieux for the time he gave for the interview that made this article possible.
Created in 1974 by the Psychiatrist John Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness meditation has become more accessible today. Over the past ten years, it has been getting more and more attention in the media, thanks in part to the involvement of Christophe André (Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist) who went so far as to introduce this type of meditation to the hospital. Validated by science, it’s a very good practice for achieving emotional balance.
What can it bring? Can we use it to support our children better? To answer these questions, we called on Olivier Madelrieux. He finished his studies in Pharmacy about thirty years ago and this neurochemistry (brain chemistry) specialist was later trained in the techniques of Mindfulness, obtaining the Lille University Diploma in Stress and Anxiety, created by Doctor Dominique Servant, doctor-psychiatrist.
His pharmacy studies had taught him the power of neurotransmitters, which have a real impact on the emotional state. According to him, “brain chemistry” can be modified in several ways: through diet, the absorption of drugs or natural products (phytotherapy, aromatherapy) or by breathing and meditation techniques, which also influence the mind and emotions.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Everyone can practise it, even children. Getting started is simply a matter of settling down with your eyes closed and observing what is happening in you: your breathing, your body sensations, your thoughts, your emotions, in the present moment. Afterwards come techniques that are more and more profound, but the basics are very simple.
In the program developed by Olivier Madelrieux, 5 techniques are used to learn the art of attention:
- Breathing, which is the basis of everything. We become conscious of the air that enters through the nostrils and exits through the mouth, simply by being aware of things,
- Body scanning, in which you work on the body and sensations,
- Meditation, to increase awareness of both emotions and thoughts,
- Yoga exercises mindfulness: to give attention to movement,
- Walking meditation.
Mindfulness is being in the present moment; very often, although the body is in the present, the mind is all too often turned towards the past (our regrets) or towards the future (our worries, our projects). Life is happening here and now! People who meditate regularly are better able to enjoy all the little pleasures of their day.
It is important to emphasize that mindfulness meditation is a method allowing you to achieve a state of consciousness where you can be an observer of your inner state, from morning to evening. To get results takes time and requires training and regularity, to really make it a way of life and to be aware of it in all your daily actions.
The main benefit will be a gradual reduction in the number of polluting parasitic thoughts: 60,000 conscious or unconscious thoughts pass through our brain every day!
What are the benefits of mindfulness meditation in children?
We see many positive effects:
- attention and concentration are developed,
- they get to sleep more easily and have better quality sleep,
- they handle stress and emotions better.
As we have seen, developing mindfulness meditation is a long learning curve. So it can be a good thing to start raising awareness early, around 12 months of age. For example, when babies are this age, we can ring a bell, getting them to be attentive to the sound until it stops; we can also use massage or yoga postures adapted to help them become more aware of their body. As the child grows up, we can deepen the practice and work on those parasitic thoughts, to teach the child to meditate.
Olivier Madelrieux reminds us that in children, the visual cortex in the occipital area of the brain (located at the back of the skull) is not fully developed until the age of 10. The child is therefore not in the same consciousness state as the adult, but is more in his imagination, and the child’s attention is more difficult to maintain. So we don’t ask the child to do exercises that require concentrating for too long.
Practical exercises and guided meditation to be used on a daily basis
In addition to the little sound exercise mentioned above, you can also have the child concentrate on a point / toy / light for about 2 minutes, excluding everything around it, morning and evening.
An older child can be asked to follow while you read a book, making sure they put their finger under each word as it’s read. This will help the child focus his attention on the book and eliminate parasitic thoughts.
In addition, there are some guided meditation practices to help toddlers learn this exercise.
The most famous guide is probably the CD book “Calme et attentif comme une grenouille” by Eline Snel (Les arènes, from 5 years old), from which the meditation “Dors bien” below is taken:
Meditation for children associated with the benefit of plants
As Olivier Madelrieux pointed out earlier, plants can have a beneficial influence on “brain chemistry”. This is where CALMOSINE Sommeil Bio comes in, associated meditation in children who have difficulty calming down before falling asleep or in children who have very restless nights.
For more information http://www.mbsr-bordeaux.fr/