Turning Inward When We’re Taught to Focus Outward

The Dalai Lama was quoted saying, “If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Why? Meditation is the path to inner peace, and with peace comes a feeling of content—the knowledge that life is happening as it is intended to happen.

But is this a realistic expectation in the society that we live in? Children these days are bogged down with tons of homework and tests, and are asked to measure up to unrealistic expectations in many areas of life. It’s not as simple as it was in the good ‘ol days, when parents would say, “eat your breakfast and go to school,” and kids would walk around the corner to school and wait for the bell to ring. Back then, parents weren’t concerned that their children would make it to school safely or that a predator might snatch them up on the way. There was trust—and maybe a bit of blind faith. But in modern society, we have more worries than ever—playground bullies, internet predators, and more—and many of us have taught our kids to be reliant on adults to figure it all out.

In addition to all that we see and hear, there’s one other large factor pulling our kids away from the innocent days of yore—electronics. Many kids are glued to their devices—and choose them over shooting hoops in the backyard on a beautiful spring day. How did we create such a plugged in, checked out society?

For one, parents are overwhelmed. The expectations on parents to achieve, provide, and succeed are sometimes too much to digest. In craving that down time, many parents hand their kids devices, whether at home, in a restaurant, or while waiting for a sibling to finish an activity. Kids have therefore been trained to have less patience than before. They don’t need to learn to wait patiently for their meal to arrive, or to sit and observe their siblings in an activity—the reward is immediate.

And many schools now employ electronic devices, too—and not just in the computer lab. By middle school or even sooner in some districts, many kids are handed tablets so that they can keep up with the growing trends. Playground time is replaced with more focused work time, and recess is taken away as a punishment for restless behavior. And we wonder why fidget spinners were invented!

So, would kids benefit from meditation? Yes, we all would! Grand Master Lu calls meditation the wireless connection that you can use to discover your own inner gift. It’s a way to bring adults and children alike back to baseline, to help turn inward in a society that is so focused outward.