“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” — Dalai Lama
Schools can be a stressful place, both for teachers and students. Some children find sitting for long hours highly boring and gain urges to act out.
When there is a mix of boredom, extra energy and other children, things tend to get messy, and schools have established detention to filter out such behavior.
But what if there are smarter ways to deal with children who distress the school’s learning environment? There certainly are.
Teaching children to meditate in school can help them to stay more focused, to better concentrate, and be optimistic in dealing with others and themselves.
One school that finds success in incorporating meditation into its program is the Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland.
This School Sends Kids To Meditation Instead Of Detention:
The school has the “Mindful Moment Room”, which is filled with purple floor pillows, yoga mats, essential oil scents, and is specifically designed to make kids comfortable.
They send children to this room if they act out or misbehave in class, and it helps kids face adversity. They learn here how to stay more mindful and calm.
One boy recalled that he was sent to the school’s meditation room by his teacher after having a conflict with a fellow pupil.
After doing deep breaths and taking some snacks, he said he was able to put himself back together and was ready to apologize to his class.
In Baltimore, almost 75% of the residents live below the poverty line and children see crimes occurring in their neighborhoods.
From this viewpoint, one can only imagine how these kids could be rowdy when they are in school.
The nonprofit Holistic Life Foundation helps Coleman run the Mindful Moment Room in the schools.
According to its staff, they encourage children to talk about why they were sent there. Then, they sit down to do the breathing exercises, inhaling and exhaling deeply.
Even though the meditation room didn’t miraculously cure children of their struggles, it still contributes to their emotional control towards the learning environment and productivity.
Before the meditation room’s creation, the school had four suspensions. But after a year of having it, no suspensions had been recorded.
And the children who had disciplinary issues became rare. The children start and end their school day with a 15 minute guided meditation and it must do wonders to them.
With the success at Coleman’s, Andres Gonzales, the foundation’s co founder says they plan to bring the program far and wide.
They plan to open Mindful Moment Rooms in other schools with the hope of bringing the program nationwide.
How meditation influences children:
Researchers found that meditation does wonders in the brains of adults, especially in stress reduction. However, with children, the research is still in its early stages.
Tamar Mendelson, an associate professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and specializes in mental health, has seen the impacts of meditation in children.
She is working with the foundation and studying the Mindful Moment Room in Baltimore. According to Mendelson:
“These kids who are dealing with high stress situations a lot of time are coming into school on high alert. Their body’s alarm system is switched way on, so they may be primed for fight or flight and not able to sit calmly and pay attention. But giving these kids the chance to breathe deeply, to focus their attention on themselves rather than what’s going on externally, can be an effective way to combat the stress, improve attention, and usher in calm.”
Punishing children for behaving badly in school used to be a tradition that wasn’t so effective. Now it’s just an over aged method that desperately needs changing.
With the onset of meditation programs in school, the school not only encourages good behavior in children but also prepares them for a bright future ahead.
And this starts within themselves despite the kind of environment they grow up in or the challenges they face early in life.