N.S. Nagaraja, Raghav R.A.
We will briefly discuss the tools and techniques used in Brighter Minds to support the four pillars of the Brighter Mind’s pedagogies.
Five-minute Heartfulness guided relaxation technique is used in every session and the children are enabled during the first session to train their family members and also other children. Often, children tend to achieve a deep state of relaxation akin to a nap within a short duration.
Simple and effective breathing techniques from traditional Yoga that activates the parasympathetic – the rest and digest pathway – is regularly used for up to 10 minutes. Children experience deep relaxation and calming effects of such breathing regularly.
The patented alpha-frequency music of Brighter Mind which entrains the children brain to the 8-12 Hz frequency band in the EEG signal-band, is played for 20-40 minutes. It is this tool that trains the child to learn how to become calm and relaxed and is a state conducive for learning and improved memory.
The first factor of a loving environment is the facilitator who can be a trainer, parent or a caregiver. Ideally, facilitators who meditate before each session is desired as experience has shown that such sessions tend to be much more effective in children’s learning as they both connect well and resonate in their communication and learning. This is also enhanced by the attitude of the facilitator who is patient, inwardly serene and intuitively feels and understands the needs of the child effectively.
Second factor is the quality of the verbal communication which is positive, encouraging, appreciative and devoid of any negative suggestions and instead focuses on building self-confidence in children.
Thirdly, the parents and care-givers are encouraged to participate with the children during their weekly 30-60 min practice that increases social and familial bonding which influences the ‘happy chemicals’ (such as oxytocin, serotonin) in children leading to joy and fulfilment arising from the extra attention (recall the Pygmalion’s effect).
A key intervention that is used at the very beginning is the 10-minute circle time where the children and the facilitator visualize self-affirming, positivity-reinforcing suggestions with closed eyes and deep self-empathy and self-acceptance. In fact, this often sets the tone for the entire session and serves as the key ‘tuning’ tool for creating harmony and joy in the session.
Fun and motivational videos or messages create peals of laughter that is known to have many positive effects on the mood and relaxation of the child thereby enabling openness in the child.
A key element of a loving environment is encouraging the child to express his/her feelings and emotions through diary writing or drawing at the end of the session.
Multi-modal cognitive training
Physical exercise in the form of dance or aerobic exercises is one key element of the multi-modal training. It goes without saying that children love to fully immerse themselves in dancing and physical exercises.
Brain exercises that involve complex motor skills with both hands and legs and engage both the brain hemispheres in coordinating complex routines are a part of the training..
Fifteen-minute eye exercises where focused eye movements are coordinated by tracking an object on the screen in various geometric paths is known to stimulate or unmask new neural pathways, thereby contributing to enhanced neuroplasticity.
The simple act of blind-folding the child and allowing him/her to identify the object colours, with other senses of smell, touch and sound have enhanced observation and sensing abilities in the children. After observing more than 6500 children exhibit sensory substitution, it is proposed that the relaxing techniques have a big influence on the child’s ability to exhibit sensory substitution or augmentation.
The key observation is that the sensory substitution in children often occurs in parallel with changes in their behaviour such as improved observational capacity, empathy, creativity or intuition. Children have shown improved emotional and social maturity, as a result. This has also resulted in improved self-confidence and tackling intellectual and social challenges more effectively. For example, they are able to deal with peer-pressure, bullying or the ubiquitous stress of exams more effectively.
In summary, since these tools and techniques are mediated via neuroplasticity over a period of 9 weeks, these changes are expected to last a life-time, if regularly practised or inculcated into their life-styles. This prepares them for the often emotionally stormy teen-age when the pre-front cortex is still under development. Building on the Brighter Mind’s training, the child is better prepared and equipped to dive into more advanced meditation techniques after the age of 15 years that support her/him for a life-time. A calm, peaceful and serene mind is the greatest gift we can offer to an individual and it is a gift for a life-time.