When we think of meditation, many images come to mind. There may even be certain stigmas associated with it. It is often perceived as religion-based or as a “new age” doctrine, with yogis perched in the lotus position chanting Ohm for hours on end.

In truth, there are many ways to define meditation. But it can also be examined from a non-denominational, objective lens. Its practice doesn’t need to be complicated or lofty. Meditation can simply be about being still and silent. It can be focusing on breath. It can be the art of calming our minds.

Andrea Pinto has been teaching meditation and yoga for over thirty years. She taught various groups ranging in age from 3 to 103. Pinto has her own view on meditation. “Meditation fosters feelings of ease and calm, peacefulness, contentment, happiness and in higher states, even pure joy and pure bliss,” says Pinto. “In any moment, it is being able to choose a state of mind that is beneficial to you.”

In today’s modern culture, meditation can be a valuable tool with a host of benefits. There is an abundance of literature about its remarkable benefits. For instance, its practice has been known to alleviate stress, worry, anxiety and depression. It can help build self-esteem and self-awareness. It can even combat a wide variety of illnesses. Pinto adds, “And best of all, there are absolutely no adverse side effects. I think that in this day and age, we all know that a positive state of mind has a strong positive influence on one's health, relationships, and job.”

In short, meditation can improve our lives. Our schedules are over-packed and we feel the need to fill up each moment. We get distracted. We obsess over the past and stress about the future. Meditation suggests that when you sit in stillness, our mindset can be changed. We are rooted in the present moment. From there, we can escape the ongoing clamour of our mind and examine things in a more objective manner.

Its practice can be beneficial for the whole family. Meditation teachers agree that children can also reap its benefits. “Children are naturals when it comes to meditating because they have a natural propensity for joy, and for seeking their own happiness,” explains Pinto.

Parents may wonder how to get their restless child to actually sit down, let alone meditate. Pinto advises, “Enjoyment, play, and fun must be at the heart of it, because that is at the very heart of every child. Whether employing animal postures or funny movements to allow the body to take different shapes which increase strength, flexibility and balance, or using breathing techniques like slowly blowing out many candles on a birthday cake, the key is a happy state of mind.”

In other words, meditation should be practiced in a lighthearted and simple way. If you would like to initiate a meditation practice in your family, start with the basics. The idea is to take a break from your busy life and carve out some sacred time. There are meditation classes, books and videos to inspire you. See what resonates with you and incorporate that into your life. Keep an open mind and see what benefits meditation can bring to your entire family.