Question: What is the best way for helping children in maintaining their awareness as they grow and mature? That’s a very good question. How can we support our children’s innocence? Because it is in that innocence that they reflect that clarity of inner truth. So in yoga we say that the young child actually has ajna chakra – ajna chakra is the psychic centre at the eyebrow centre, they have ajna chakra open and it remains open for them until puberty. Nowadays children go into puberty very early and that may be due to diet, excessive protein in the diet perhaps, excessive hormone in the diet. It may be due also to different influences in society because of TV, video games and literature and all the things that children are exposed to from early age. It may be due to association, watching parents or older children interacting in certain ways or maybe a combination of all these things, which cause the hormonal system of a child to develop earlier. When the hormonal system develops in a child, the reproductive system develops in the small child, then the ajna chakra slowly shuts down and the reproductive areas open up. And the young child’s system is then filled with hormones of a sexual nature and this is really destructive for a small child, a child say around 9, 10, 11, is very destructive. Because they don’t have the emotional maturity to deal with those hormones, they are very intense for them. When they should be thinking and playing and interacting as a child, they are forced to experience an intensity of hormone within them that they don’t know how to deal with. They don’t know how to react to and they are not really in a position to have a partner, you know, to expect that emotion or they are not in a position to reproduce a child. You know a young girl that starts menstruating at age 11 – she is not really ready emotionally to reproduce. But her body is doing it. And her mind and emotions are not able to keep up. So many children become unbalanced at this time. And they lose that inner connection with themselves and that confidence in their inner selves. So sometimes children really go off the rails at that time. And it is very difficult for the parents to bring them back on the rails because there are so many influences also that the child is exposed to. Not only the parents, friends and school and so many things, TV. So what they have said in yoga is that we should at all costs strive to prevent the early sexual maturation. This is the thing. So we try to prevent the sexual maturation of a young child and delay it. Not that we are preventing it permanently but we delay it. We try to delay it up to the age of 15, 16 even 18 so that they can then handle the onset of those hormones. And they can be stable. If a child is 16,18 when sexual maturity happens, when puberty happens, then they can handle it, you see, they are ready for it emotionally. So in yoga they have observed from the age of 8 the first impulses in the child’s body for sexual maturation to develop, at age 7 or 8. And then from 7 or 8 if these first impulses are allowed to develop then the child will have a normal puberty around 12. So if at age 7 or 8 the child is introduced to three yoga practices, then we can delay that onset of puberty for a few years. And the three yoga practices are surya namaskar, which works on all the glands, nadi shodana pranayama which keeps the hemispheres of the brain and the nervous system balanced, and shambavi Mudra which is the upward gazing which we did in the morning session, where you stimulate ajna chakra. So these three practices if the child does them every morning and they don’t have to do many rounds, 2 or 3 rounds maybe the practice could take 5 to 10 minutes, they can delay puberty. But nowadays the world being as it is, I think the parent would also have to observe in the lifestyle you know some measures that would also enable the child to keep innocent. To keep an innocence... because once a child loses innocence, it can never be regained. And it is that stage of innocence where the intuition can flourish. The truth is there. In innocence there is truth. When the child loses that innocence then you know untruth kinda creeps in there. And then it is very difficult to keep the intuition. Question: Is Gayatri Mantra part of this? Gayatri Mantra also. Gayatri Mantra is also included in that and Gayatri Mantra is very important for keeping the child’s mind bright, because Gayatri is the mantra of the sun. So Gayatri keeps their mind luminous and able to learn, able to absorb the teachings in the school easily. But sometimes it is difficult for the children to chant the Gayatri, you know due to maybe religion or something else. If they like it then that would be the fourth practice. Question: Is this for young boys as well? Definitely. Yes this is for both boys and girls, to delay. And in the early days when yoga was taught by the ancient rishis and the muni's. The children used to be educated out of the home, so around 7 or 8 the girls and the boys were taken to live in the hermitage or the home of the teacher, which was usually not in the village or the town but a little bit apart, in a natural environment. And there the child was exposed to nature. Not to the town life and not to the home life, but to nature. And the child was also given a discipline, you know to do some physical work. Like they would look after the cows, or chop the wood or sweep or do the vegetable garden – different things like that, they would do a little bit of work which would be good for their health and for their hormones and they would also study with the master, with the rishi, with the teacher. And so, they would lead a very pure life, from aged 7 or 8 while they studied. This is what is missing from modern education. The idea is that children should have a disciplined and pure life. Our children do no work, they don’t help around the house. So they do no physical work – that’s not good for a child. And then they are allowed to engage their mind in any way – through television or video games or going out with other children and hanging around, they don’t have a discipline in life. So all of these things have kind of mounted up and have created this early puberty in children, and also boredom in children so that at a very early age they go for stimulation from outside. Like drugs and alcohol and smoking, so many things that children do, which in ancient times they never would have done because they wouldn’t have had the time to – or they wouldn’t have the circumstance which would allow them to do those things. See children were not so free before, ever in any age as they are now. And free to do nothing. It is not healthy for children. So in the ashram also we are trying to create these values for young people as well as for mature people. So when children come to live in an ashram it means that they have to participate in the ashram life and duties. So the children get up early like any other member of the ashram and they learn to do that. They get up early, they start their day by doing some physical work. Maybe they do a little bit of chanting with the group and some physical work, maybe some sweeping, some cleaning, some washing and they participate also in the maintenance of the community. They are not just set aside and allowed to run freely. Of course they do have some time to run freely, but they also participate. And I think this is very much missing in modern life. We have everything and we try to give our children everything. But in that really we are robbing our children. We are robbing our children. And we are creating a kind of false security in them. That they don’t have to do anything in life. It would be better really if we were to engage our children and get them to be more active in purposeful activities. Where they go out and skateboard and they hang around, that is not purposeful. So children should be engaged purposefully at home and they can be also given these few practices to do and some studies to do, and some sports where they you know, engage their bodies. So I think if children were kept more busy it would be good. Plus the yoga practices and plus children always copy, they always copy. So they see the parents drinking, then they drink. They see the parents smoking pot, they are going to wind up doing that. What we do we have to think our children are going to do. We are giving them those samskaras. So if a child sees that his parents get up and practice a little bit of yoga and have a discipline in their life, the child will develop like that too. So these are some of the things we can think about in relation to children. Question: Do you think that TV watching kills intuition? Definitely, I know it does. I don’t think it, I know it. And even scientifically they have shown that the emanations coming into the brain from the TV programs, the waves, the wavelengths, they actually scramble the frontal brain. They scramble it. And you can feel after you watch, although I myself love to watch TV but I have to not watch it. Because I was watching it when I was a child and then when I was in the ashram I didn’t watch it at all. So I could really feel it when I started to watch it again when I came outside, it really affected my frontal brain. And I cannot concentrate after watching TV. So if I watch TV or a video then I wont be able to do my meditation. The frontal brain becomes dissipated, distracted, and you don’t have the psychic energy to focus. Meditation requires you to focus your mind and your awareness on one point. That takes energy. That takes a lot of energy. And if your energy is dissipated and your brain in scrambled, you cant meditate. So watching TV from early age and hours and hours of TV is very destructive, for children and for adults both. Very destructive. So if we are going to do it we should decide all right I am going to watch this or this but that’s all, then turn it off. It is called the idiot box!