An Endless To Do List
As a teacher I know it is hard to fit in everything you are required to do in a school day. The curriculum is insanely packed and overflowing. As a result there is always continuous pressure to include new approaches to learning. To develop improvements in current practices. Parents often share with me their similar views of life at home. An endless to do list with rare breaks. Most divulge the difficulty in setting beneficial routines, purely because children grow so quickly. Therefore whatever routine being implemented is in constant need of altering and updating to be of any help.
So when I hear of teachers using a pre-recorded audio for a guided meditation with their children, I can see why. And don’t get me wrong, something is always better than nothing. But I do believe using someone else’s voice and words is doing you and your kids a disservice. It is a great opportunity lost.
Meditation And Connecting Through Voice
It is of paramount importance that teachers and parents lead a guided meditation using their own voice. This is how you can connect with children. Once you know the psychological benefits of using vocal communication to connect with others, you’ll put that pre-recorded meditation audio away for good.
Every voice is unique, like the stripes on a zebra and a human’s fingerprints. Swati Johar, Scientist of the Institute of Psychological Research in Delhi, explains this is “due to the difference in the size and shape of vocal cords… resulting in a change in pitch, volume, timbre, or tone of the sound produced”.
Intelligence and Behavioural Development
Just as our bodies are all different, so too are the minute differences in sound waves heard from each human’s voice. Johar considers these obvious, subliminal and even unconscious interpretations as “a powerful index of emotional and personality markers which are paramount in the extraction of meaningful information”.
As a result she believes vocal encounters with children “contribute to a better understanding” which allows them to relate more to your personality. They develop skills of empathy and increase levels of trust as you foster a closer bond. This is of such high importance for teachers and parents. This can make guiding children in their academic and behavioural development a much smoother and meaningful process.
Utilizing Meditative Moments
Children are constantly experiencing and making sense of new emotions. The time when they are navigating this minefield is where our guidance as teachers, parents and adults is of greatest importance. Of all the layers we relate on, Family Life Specialist and Associate Professor Angela R. Wiley believes the “emotional layer of communication may be one of the most important”. We thoroughly explore our emotional layer when meditating, therefore it is such a powerful thing for your children at home or in the classroom to connect with your voice when they are deep in these moments.
As Wiley suggests “communication is a tool for knowing or emotionally connecting with one another.” She expresses the importance of the quality of voice you use when guiding others in meditations. Your voice contains a “rich set of paralinguistic and emotive markers that people use in their interactions. The tone and expression with which it is uttered matter tremendously”. Therefore, with practice your soft, low, slow and soothing voice can be used in “seeking support or comfort, forming alliances, conveying emotion, or effecting some change in their environment”. What powerful potential your voice holds!
The Role Of The LIstener
So why does using your voice have this effect? How does it create closer bonds, stronger relationships and open up more effective lines of communication? Professor of the Psychology Department at Columbia University Robert M. Krauss explains that even though speaker appears like a one way process, the role of the listener creates an engagement that transforms the communication into a group interaction. “Communicators must make their coparticipants’ perspectives part of the process of formulating and interpreting messages. Thus any communicative exchange is implicitly a joint or collective activity in which meaning emerges from the participants’ collaborative efforts”.
You are linked not by the words you vocalise, but by the interpretations of the messages you share with the listener. This results in a deeper psychological bond that has tremendous benefits to the social relationships you experience with your children or students.
A Safe Place To Connect
Krauss’ research found “that men are often over-stimulated by this kind of communication [intense eye contact] and may withdraw”. My experience in classrooms correlates with this findings as I observed more young male students experience greater difficulty in establishing these types of connections. Like any relationships, the depth of the bond takes time, but the sustained effort is worth it.
Krauss explains; “A predominance of positive interactions is important if communication is to connect rather than isolate and alienate. A pattern of positive emotional interaction is built up over time”. For some students, the possibility of experiencing a deep emotional connection with someone can be daunting. That is why meditation is so effective. Students are in their own space, feeling safe and secure. Your voice offers guidance. It is subtle, unobtrusive and supportive. It allows the shy or anxious children to form a strong bond with you at a pace they feel safe. Therefore, a bond that may not have been possible in other social interactions and forms of communication.
As a teacher I suggest guided meditation be practiced three to five mornings a week for five or ten minutes. Engage in the meditation before the first lesson has begun. As a parent it may be more beneficial to share a guided meditations with your children as you tuck them into bed each night.
In saying this, I know life gets in the way! It can be hard to change commit to changing habits and then finding the time and energy to do so! But the health benefits really are worth it. I have created Yogaloosi Meditation Scripts to help those who need support. They are a great way to implement a meditation routine beacuse it removes all the stress or fuss of preplanning. Click here to subscribe.
The Power Of Voice
So let your voice flourish! Begin establishing stronger, closer social relationships. Joan Gorham is the Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, West Virginia University. Her research shows that use of “vocal expressiveness” is a major determining factor in “increased cognitive and affective learning.”
You have the power to boost children’s cognitive learning. As a Result you have the power to raise emotionally intelligent people who will be able to deal with all the ups and downs that life brings. Meditation is a gift that keeps on giving. Use your voice, connect deeply and enjoy the experiences that healthy and happy relationships bring.