So Looking at the Vipassana website, I found this very interesting!
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Anapana Courses for Children
In a time of worldwide social transition and upheaval, more and more
people throughout the world are seeking concentration, purification and
peace of mind through the practice of Vipassana meditation
Vipassana means "to see things as they really are" and is a logical
process of mental purification through self-observation. Many come to
Vipassana late in their lives, wishing they had found this technique
earlier because it is so effective in learning the art of living
peacefully and harmoniously. The ideal time to begin the first steps of
this mental training is in childhood when children as young as eight
years old can easily learn the technique of Anapana meditation
Anapana is the first step in the practice of Vipassana meditation.
Anapana means observation of natural, normal respiration, as it comes in
and as it goes out. It is an easy-to-learn, objective and scientific
technique which helps develop concentration of the mind. Observation of
the breath is the ideal object for meditation because it is always
available, and it is completely non-sectarian. Anapana is very different
from techniques that are based on artificial regulation of the breath.
There are no rites or rituals involved in the practice or presentation
The ideal time to begin the first steps of this mental training is in
childhood. Besides helping children to calm and concentrate their
minds, Anapana helps them to understand themselves better and gives them
an insight into the workings of their own minds. They develop an inner
strength that helps them to choose right and appropriate actions over
wrong actions, control and become master of their own mind. Anapana
provides them with a tool to deal with the fears, anxieties and
pressures of childhood and adolescence. Because of its simplicity,
children find the technique easy to understand and practice.
This approach is traced back to the Buddha
, who rediscovered and taught this technique nearly 2,500 years ago. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma
- the Universal Law of Nature. Following this tradition, this technique
is presented in a totally non-sectarian approach. For this reason, it
has had a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every
religion or no religion, from every part of the world.
A technique for Today
Children today are growing up in a fractured and rapidly changing
world. They need help to meet the challenges facing them and to develop
their full potential. Anapana courses can help them find a way to live
peacefully and productively, and to make the society in which we live
more peaceful. In the words of Mr. S. N. Goenka
, “They should grow up to be ideal human beings. That is our only aim.”
Objective of the Course
What is the right age to start meditating?
It’s a question that Goenkaji has often been asked, and his answer is
usually the same: “Before birth! Then when the child is born, it comes
out a Dhamma baby.”
Not all of us have been fortunate enough to have such an early exposure to the Dhamma
or to give our children such an early start. But more than ever, there
are opportunities for children to learn the basics of meditation. And
the results are often startling.
Over the past 15 years, hundreds of Anapana courses have been
conducted exclusively for children around the world. These courses have
yielded substantial benefits for the thousands of children who have
attended them. Many of them have experienced a positive change in their
outlook, behaviour and attitude. Many have found their ability to
concentrate has improved and that their memory has strengthened. And
above all, these children have acquired a tool that is of immense value
to them for the rest of their lives. Children are, by nature, active and
enthusiastic, with an eagerness to learn and explore. For this reason,
it is appropriate to offer them an opportunity to explore themselves and
their mind with all its hidden faculties, latent abilities and subtle
Learning Anapana plants a wholesome interest in self-introspection
and meditation, which may open an entirely new dimension of life for
them later on. Anapana courses for children have been conducted since
1986. These courses have been offered to children of various ages
belonging to different socio-economic and cultural groups. They have
been conducted in Vipassana meditation centres
as well as at schools and other institutions, and are both residential
and non-residential. Whether a children's Anapana course is held at a
school or at a Vipassana meditation centre, it is essential that the
students be given an opportunity to continue to practise Anapana for a
short period each day after the course to yield the true benefits of the
Children Courses - History & Spread
Mr. Vinoba Bhave, a leading disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, was
instrumental in starting children courses in India. After meeting Mr. S.
N. Goenka in the 1970s, Mr. Bhave was impressed with his work but he
said, “I will believe this is worthwhile only if you can show that it
works with hardened criminals and undisciplined school children.” Mr.
Goenka gladly accepted the challenge and the course was arranged for the
children which was very sucessful.
After this initial course, more than a decade passed until the launch
of a formal meditation program for children. The first course took
place in 1986, in a school located in the Mumbai suburb of Juhu. It was
followed by many more courses, in India and around the world. Meditators
enthusiastically stepped forward to serve. Although the format kept
evolving; the response from participants, parents and teachers has
consistently been positive.
In addition to courses in Government & semi-government schools,
regular children courses are conducted for special groups like autistic
children, homeless children, orphans, children with hearing and speech
impairments, and children with physical and mental disabilities. The
Government of Maharastra passed a GR No 'Sankirn 2011/296/11/se-3
' on 5th October, 2011 for introduction of Anapana Courses to all primary and secondary schools in the state of Maharashtra.
For more details regarding the history and spread of Children courses, please click here
How a Children Course Works
Today separate courses welcome children aged 8 to 12 and teens aged
13 to 16. Often the program starts in the morning and ends in the
evening, There are also two and three-day courses.
Conducting the course is a children’s course teacher, who has
undergone special training at a workshop. Along with the teacher are
group leaders, each working closely with a small number of children.
Short meditation periods alternate with supervised play and
activities, such as drawing and discussion. The objective is to give the
participants an enjoyable experience, help them feel comfortable in a
meditation environment and introduce them to the basics of Anapana.
Often the course site is a Vipassana meditation center but sometimes
it is a rented facility. And sometimes, courses are held in schools as a
recognized part of the curriculum.
To learn Anapana, it is necessary to take an Anapana Course under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
There are two steps to the training: In the first step the children
make a conscious effort to abstain from all kinds of unwholesome
actions. They undertake five moral precepts: practicing abstention from
killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and use of intoxicants and
follow the code of conduct
. The observation of these precepts allows the mind to calm down enough to proceed for the next step.
Next they learn and practice Anapana meditation - focusing attention
on the breath as it comes in and goes out naturally. The entire teaching
in all these courses is conducted through audio & video tapes of
Mr. S. N. Goenka, principal teacher of Vipassana meditation, who
reintroduced this teaching in India and many other countries. Each
course is divided into small sessions of 30-40 minutes which includes
both practice and understanding of the theory. Residential courses also
include games and other creative activities. However more time is
allocated to the practice of the technique. The course concludes with
the practice of Metta-bhavna
(loving kindness or goodwill towards all) in which peace and happiness gained during the course is shared with all beings.
Course Eligibility & Duration
Anapana courses are held regularly at permanent Vipassana centers and
rented sites in different countries for children between 8 to 16 years,
in association with Vipassana International Academy
Generally separate courses are organized for age groups of 8 to 12
years and of 13 to 16 years. The courses are of different duration to
suit every section of the society.
1-day Non Residential Courses:
These are held around the world at schools, camps, and also at
Vipassana Meditation Centres. Please follow the procedure as defined by
each center. The age groups vary from place to place, hence students are
requested to check details from the course schedule
In one day courses, students learn the basics of Anapana meditation
and the half hour practice sessions are combined with interactive
discussion, creative activities, and quiet games in smaller groups. The sample timetable
from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm but this varies from place to place. Lunch and a
snack are normally provided. The teachers are helped by other
volunteers who make sure everyone has a good time.
2 or 3-day Residential Courses:
These are mostly held at Vipassana meditation centres, which
are quiet and peaceful places. Boys and girls are taught in separate
groups. The meditation sessions are the same as for a 1-day course, but
there is more time to relax, to meditate and go deeper and to discuss
your practice with the teachers.
In residential as well as non-residential courses, Children have to
stay within the course premises for the entire duration of the course.
They are also expected to refrain from all kinds of religious practices
or other disciplines for that period. Girls and boys stay separately at
all times during the course.
To participate in the course, children undertake to observe five
precepts as mentioned above and observe the course related discipline.
Anapana courses are also being conducted at various institutions like
Schools, Orphan Homes, Homes for the Blind, Juvenile Homes, at their
request and subject to certain formalities for the benefit of their
How to Apply
1. Read the Code of Conduct and Course Time Table
2. Select a Center
: Select center/non center location convenient for you from Children Courses Schedule
3. Contact the Selected Center
: Contact the selected Center and follow the procedure as defined by each Center.
All courses are run solely on the basis of voluntarily offered
donations. There is no fee charged. The courses are financed by
donations from the students who have completed a prior course and wish
to share the benefits they themselves received by giving donations for
the students who come after them.
Continuing the Practice after the Course
Continuity of practice is essential for children to get the true
benefits of the technique. It is therefore recommended that the child be
given an opportunity at home to continue practicing Anapana for a short
period of 10-15 minutes each day, after the course. They can also be
encouraged to attend refresher courses.
Impact on Course Participants
Parents report that after learning Anapana, their children cope
better with problems, behave better, act less aggressive and watch less
television. Children say that they use Anapana before school exams and
in stressful situations. One boy had resented the time spent by his
mother at meditation courses; after he learned Anapana, the resentment
gave way to respect and closeness.
One schoolteacher received a surprise when she told a rambunctious
6-year-old in her class to sit in the corner and “meditate.” She was
using the term loosely to mean calm down. But in fact the boy went and
sat cross-legged on the floor, with eyes closed. The baffled teacher
asked what he was doing. He replied, “I’m observing my respiration.”
After school she checked with the boy’s parents, who told her
Fifteen years ago, a 13-year-old boy from France attended a number of
children’s courses. After one course he wrote, “Meditation is a special
moment that a person spends in quietness far away from noise, far from
everything! Particularly this tranquility, which we find so rarely in
life. Life is a river that we purify so little except during meditation.
It is sometimes peaceful, sometimes agitated, sometimes clouded,
sometimes dark. The mind is always overloaded with all sorts of
thoughts. Meditation is an excellent way of taming the wandering mind.
It is also a remedy for anger and melancholy.”
That boy is now an adult, and he and his wife are both serious
Vipassana meditators. He hopes his two children will attend courses when
they are a little older, as first steps along the path he has chosen
India has also experimented with courses for autistic children,
homeless children, orphans, children with hearing and speech
impairments, and children with physical and mental disabilities. In
Pune, for example, a home for destitute children has offered Anapana
courses for the last 10 years to its 400+ residents. Some children have
gone on to learn Vipassana in longer courses. Daily meditation has
immensely improved their self-confidence.
In Myanmar, there have been courses for children with visual or
hearing impairments, children affected by leprosy, and juvenile
offenders in various institutions. In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in
May 2008, old students organized a visit to southern Myanmar to offer
physical assistance as well as Anapana courses; about 1,500 children
participated within a few weeks.
To read experiences of course participants, please click here
Other countries have also experimented with courses for children who
have hearing and sight disabilities, homeless children and children
affected by leprosy. The results have been impressive. For more details,
please click here
Varied and detailed research has been undertaken to study the impact
of Vipassana on children. To read research reports and other artciles,
please click here
Anapana in Schools under MITRA Upakram (Project)
MITRA Upakram is an initiative of the Government of Maharashtra in association with Vipassana Research Institute
facilitate wholesome mental growth of school children. MITRA, which
stands for MIND IN TRAINING for RIGHT AWARENESS also means DOST in Hindi
or FRIEND in English. Under MITRA Upakram, schools in co-ordination
with VRI arranges for its students to get initial training of 70 minutes
of Anapana, through audio/video instructions of Mr. S. N. Goenka. After
the initial training, the school children practice this technique daily
for 10 minutes twice - before their first class, and after their last
class. Under MITRA projects, school teachers get paid leave to attend 10-day Vipassana courses
. For more information on MITRA project, please click here
Anapana Session for Children - Total 70 min
The following link contains detailed audio
instructions on Anapana meditation in various languages. Links for
Hindi and English languages contain audio instructions by Mr. S. N.