Education of youth is the key element to create happy people living in harmonious societies. I believe that to expose the youth to meditational techniques (obviously adapted to their capacities) is of vital importance to balance the extreme emphasis on the rational and analytical capacities toward which educational systems all over the world have veered.
For children in kinder garden, 5 minutes of guided meditation would suffice, whereas for older kids, 10 minutes with some time of sitting in total silence, could be possible. Meditation could be presented as a game, accompanied with stretching exercises oriented for children.
I tested a special CM meditation of 40 minutes with a group of teenagers, and they liked it precisely because of the diversity of techniques, so they did not feel bored and time passed quickly. Another personal observation is that kids love to bow when it is introduced as a joyful activity; never as a punishment! (Believe it or not, I witness this kind of ‘educative tool’).
Therefore, the short CM meditation (half an hour) could be suitable to introduce meditation to teenagers, whose range of attention is not high, better off than other designs with longer periods and dealing with a single practice.
Likewise, the above discussion for children and teenagers is also applicable to elders, since they may be unable to endure long periods of sitting in meditation. Meditation could also be done sitting on chairs. The exercises should be also appropriate to their physical condition, and bowing could be done as half-bows instead of full prostrations.
CM could be introduced as a meditational practice to complement programs of recovery of addictions such as Alcoholic Anonymous, or similar ones. The core of the method used in these groups is to recognize a greater power that gives the necessary strength to overcome the addiction, which is usually referred to as ‘God’ or a ‘Higher Being.’ The feeling of helplessness and guilt, and its redemption through faith in God is a well known psychological mechanism. It is at this point that many of those who approach this kind of program find the most difficult hurdle to pass, especially if they are not inclined to religious attitudes. Because of this aspect, many voices have raised their concerns about what sometimes resembles a ‘cult’.
Meditation covers the necessity of a greater power without needing any God or Higher Being other than the more authentic awareness that is uncovered through its practice. Mere meditation can be a technique too difficult for people who have serious emotional disturbances and low self esteem. Such people, when trying to still their minds, often get the opposite result. Therefore, more guidance than usual may be necessary, and it is in this regard that CM may turn to be ideally suited, since every five minutes there is going to be a call of attention and an affirmation, which is a form of positive thinking.
Besides, CM is accessible to anyone from the first time it is practiced, and given its integral combination of practices, may approach the process of recovering not only as the readjusting of a weak psyche or will, but as much more holistic approach to body and mind.
Meditation has been tested in prisons with spectacular results. You may take a look at this link to check out how long-term incarcerated people can transform their lives through meditation. (Thank you Jaleh for sending the link).
Meditation is not necessarily only a Buddhist practice, at least in the restrictive sense that some may have of the term Buddhism, but is open to be adapted to any spiritual path. In fact, I purposely designed CM to be as inclusive as possible to any tradition, and I would seriously doubt any genuine practitioner, regardless of her background, that would have any objection based on doctrinal argumentation to these practices and affirmations.
The most serious difficulty I foresee in the structure of CM is the practice of bowing. Protestants on account of historical reasons, Catholics on account of idolatry, and atheists on suspicion of being a self-devaluating gesture, may have problems in prostrating. But, if we are able to leave aside these concerns, we may discover one of the most powerful techniques of spiritual transformation.