I just started the Ananda Course in Meditation and I would like to learn how to influence my children to embrace meditation to address their fears and anxieties but don't know a good way to approach this. They are teenagers and have no experience with it nor are they readily inclined to be still and quiet long enough to meditate. A.S., Texas
I would say you are taking the most important and most impactful first step as a parent to learn and practice meditation yourself! As you’re likely learning that with teenagers (and really with people of all ages) our actions speak louder than words. As you learn and begin to practice meditation, regularly share with them (without any agenda or expectation of a particular response) about your own experiences and how it is helping you. Let them see you making it a habit, a priority, in your life and they will most certainly be impacted even if they don’t act immediately.
For me it was the fact that my parents didn’t meditate (though they would have been greatly helped by it) that pushed me to seek an alternative. If your children can see a direct, personal example of the benefits of meditation and they experience the shift in your energy, that will likely have a more powerful impact than any lecture or suggestion. Most importantly, wait for them to show interest and be ready to share more when they do. They will be much more motivated and receptive if you wait for that opening than if you tell them they should meditate because it’s good for them. How often are people motivated to do things because they’re “good”? It can take a great deal of self-discipline even when we're willing!
That being said, perhaps your teens would be more interested in an active practice like doing yoga postures. For many, this is a doorway to relaxation and then meditation. Sitting still and quiet isn’t the only way to connect with the benefits of meditation. Art, music or being in nature are often doorways for finding the sense of inner stillness and connection that we arrive at through meditation. You might consider making hiking or trips to beautiful places in nature a part of your family’s routines. Or simply having relaxing music on in the background before or after dinner or during a commute can be a starting point to inviting more calmness into the day to day. Keep in touch and let me know how things go as you get into the course yourself.
P.S. Here’s two of the most popular blog posts on our site on how to cultivate more calmness in ourselves and our children: