Who’s afraid of five minutes? What is five minutes, anyway? For example, can you imagine children – yours or those of people close to you – sitting silently for five minutes? Five whole minutes, and without having been promised a reward at the end. To illustrate, we will resort to a bit of guided imagery while setting the timer of the cell phone to do a five-minute countdown.
How long is five minutes of sitting quietly, in silence, trying not to move, breathing normally and, if one wishes, with eyes shut. Sometimes it shoots by in a twinkling; sometimes every minute feels like an hour. Now, if you are personally acquainted with hyperactive children – preferably with an official diagnostic certificate that cost a fortune, but even without a diagnosis – try to imagine them sitting. Five minutes. No less. Silently. And the next day again. And then again.
The percentage of schoolchildren who are diagnosed as hyperactive or as being afflicted with attention deficit disorders of all kinds is off the charts. . Ritalin can help relieve the suffering – sitting for hours in a classroom and trying to understand something through the blocking noise in the head and the anxiety created by the disconnects is certainly great suffering – but it has serious side effects.
Scientists have proved that meditation provides real assistance in this regard, and its benefits – when it is practiced diligently, under proper guidance and gradually intensified – are welcome and readily discernible. It is sufficient, and recommended, to start with five minutes a day, a period during which one doesn’t need to talk or think about anything. In effect, what’s required is training oneself in being quiet, but it takes practice – preferably from childhood.
Meditation works for everyone who uses it, and a simple search on Google will provide extensive and detailed confirmation of this. So, why not try it on children? If only for the possibility that they won’t turn out like us: anxious, competitive, achievement-driven, unsatisfied and incapable of ceasing in the constant search constantly for something to calm us down.
Therefore, on the nights when the moon spills over, I utter a prayer to the gods: That on an empty moonlit night, when the heart is missing, the Master David Ben-Gurion will come to Benjamin Netanyahu in a dream, in black gym pants, with his towering mane of hair and furious eyebrows, and order the prime minister to make sure that every school day begins with five minutes of meditation. Every morning. Teacher and pupils. Sitting in silence, eyes shut.
They can giggle. They can split a gut laughing. Terrific. Consistent practice produces fruits. They will learn to spend five minutes a day with themselves in total silence without being afraid.
Nili Landesman teaches yoga.