What is Anapana meditation?

Anapana is a simple meditation technique. The children learn how to observe the natural, normal breath as it enters or leaves the nostrils. It helps them to calm down their mind and to concentrate better. As well as helping the mind to calm down, Anapana also helps them to understand themselves and how their minds work. They will gain mastery over their impulses and behaviour. They will develop an inner strength that helps them choose the right and appropriate actions over wrong actions. Anapana is a tool that can be used to help deal with agitation, and with the fears, anxieties and pressures that they might experience in childhood and adolescence.

  • Why would a child attend an Anapana meditation course?
  • Practising Anapana can give many benefits, including:
  • Improved concentration and memory
  • Increased self-awareness and alertness of mind
  • An ability to relax
  • More self-confidence
  • Greater capacity to work and study
  • Better goodwill for other people.

Where does the technique come from?

A short story – The Young Prince Meditating
This technique of meditation was discovered by the Buddha. He was born as Prince Siddhartha about 2,500 years ago in Nepal, a beautiful and peaceful country in the Himalayas. Because so many wise and saintly people had meditated there in the distant past, the vibration was so good and so conducive towards meditation.

All truly great humans start to show signs of their greatness from a very young age, and so it was for this boy too. At the age of about five or seven years old he learned a technique of concentrating his mind, of becoming the master of his mind. This is how it happened:

Every year his father the king would participate in a festival. Part of the festival was the spectacle of the king ploughing a field, and naturally people would gather around to watch. The young prince was taken along to the festival by his nanny so that he could also enjoy it, but after a while he lost interest and felt sleepy. His nanny put him down under a tree so that he could rest, and when he fell asleep she went off to enjoy the festivities herself. When the young prince woke he found that he was all alone. He wasn’t interested in rejoining the festival, so he decided to sit up, crossing his legs and closing his eyes. And like that he started feeling the natural breath coming in and going out of his nostrils. His mind became very concentrated, calm, tranquil and peaceful. It was such a wonderful experience for a child of about five or seven years old!

Years later, when the boy had grown up and was twenty-nine years old he decided to leave the royal household. He wanted to find out why there was so much unhappiness in the world, what the cause of the unhappiness was, and whether there was a way out of it. For six years he travelled in search of the truth, practising different techniques and working in different ways to find a way out of suffering. Then one evening, when he was sitting under a tree – a Bodhi tree – he suddenly remembered his early experience of meditation from when he was a young child: “When I started observing my breath all those years ago I felt so peaceful, so concentrated. Why don’t I try doing it again?” he said to himself. And so he did. And this was Anapana meditation, the first step that he took on the path to becoming truly peaceful and happy.

Courses offered in Anapana meditation

In UAE Anapana Seminars for Children are 1-day seminars held in different parts of UAE. This seminar is for children aged 8 to 14 years old. Children learn the basics of meditation and the half hour practice sessions are combined with discussion, creative activities, story telling and games in smaller groups. The sample timetable is from 9.30am to 5.00pm but that depends on the place. Lunch and a snack are normally provided. Anyone can come but you need permission from your parents. The teachers are helped by other volunteers, who make sure everyone has a good time.

One day course timetable

9:00 am to 9:30 am Registration & orientation
9:30 am to 10.30 am Meditation & interaction
10:30 am to 11:15 am Creative activities or games
11:15 am to 12 noon Meditation & discussion
12 noon to 1:00 pm Lunch & activities
1:00 pm to 1:45 pm Meditation & interaction
1:45 pm to 2:30 pm Games or other activities
2:30 pm to 3:15 pm Meditation & feedback session
3:15 pm to 4:00 pm Snack & quiet activities
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm Closing meditation session

In some countries, the teenagers’ course is for teens ages 13 to 18 years old are held. Currently such teenager courses are not held in UAE.

During the course, meditation instructions are given by S N Goenka via audio and video recordings. In addition, there may be physical and creative activities as shown in the sample timetable above. On teenagers’ courses there may be longer periods of meditation. On all these courses, groups of participants are assigned helpers who take care of their needs during the course.