- Less stress. Teens who practice meditation regularly note lower stress
- More restorative than gym class. Students in one study report feeling more energized after mindfulness practice than P.E.
- Decreased anger. Some feel a decrease in feelings of anger
- Greater mental clarity. Kids who practice meditation claim more mental sharpness
- Lower destructive behavior. Studies find a decrease in destructive teen habits, particularly smoking.
Mindfulness has numerous positive effects on well-being and can be used as a powerful intervention for teens. It can increase empathy and happiness and improve attention. Scientists have shown that teen meditation is just as effective as medication. One study found that meditation had the same impact on anxiety and depression as antidepressants did.
A study at Harvard Medical School showed that meditation changes the brain. In fact, the regular practice of meditation over time increases the thickness of the areas of the brain associated with well-being, self-regulation, and learning. This is true for teens as well as adults.
By meditating on a regular basis, the study also revealed a decrease in the size of the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with fear and stress. Hence, fear and stress are reduced. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to have meditation as an intrinsic part of any program that offers mental health recovery services and substance use disorder recovery services.
In fact, meditation is even more important for teens than for adults. This is because their brains are still developing. Scientists found that high school students in a meditative yoga class felt much better afterward than they did after taking a P.E. class. Furthermore, they reported more energy and decreases in anger, depression, and tension.
Meditation and Teen Addiction
Research also shows a link between meditation and recovery from addiction. In one study, mindfulness practice was more helpful for people trying to stop smoking cigarettes than the American Lung Association’s “Freedom from Smoking” program. Mindfulness can also prevent relapse.
“Adolescents are less anxious and sleep better after doing yoga,” says Sat Bir S. Khalsa of Harvard Medical School, who led the study team. “In addition, their self-awareness and ease in their body increase. Their worldview begins to shift toward a more positive one.”
“Anything that increases awareness helps with depression, anxiety, and substance use,” says Newport Academy psychiatrist Dr. Michel Mennesson.
Meditation is impactful when practiced in a group of people with similar challenges and intentions, he says. It creates a feeling of connection with self and others.
No Dangerous Side Effects
In conclusion, unlike medication, meditation has no dangerous side effects. It’s free, and can be practiced anytime. And it works. Furthermore, this is why mindfulness practice is an essential part of the Newport Academy curriculum. Consequently, we hope to see it more commonly prescribed for teens. Doctors, mental health professionals, and recovery experts must note the significance of this tool.
Jamison Monroe, Jr., is the Founder and CEO of Newport Academy.
Photo credits: Olgaorly for iStock