A dark room and ambient music. The scent of essential oils and sticks and people who sit in a yoga position. When you are picturing the meditation, what comes to your mind? Do you see it as an overwhelming prayer or religious experience? Or the perfect way to focus on what’s important in you? Very practical and usable. Whatever our personal attitude towards meditation, there is a widespread trend of introducing meditation and mindfulness into the educational programs. Many schools include it in their classrooms, teaching philosophy, and disciplinary programs.
One of the many organizations involved in monitoring and introducing the mindfulness program is Mindful Schools, with a network of educators in fifty countries and over 14,000 teachers, administrators, mental health professionals and members of the school community. Today, this organization is working with a vast community that includes more than 750,000 students around the world.
The US Marine Corps also experimented with the implementation of “Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training” as part of its training. The purpose was to use attention as a means of reducing stress.
In one school in Baltimore, a program was introduced that attracted considerable public attention. About 120 students teach yoga, awareness, meditation, breathing exercises, and countless other life skills related to interconnection.
Is school the right place for meditation?
You probably read about successful methods of meditation instead of punishment for students, and the introduction of behavior therapy. Such approaches have caused various reactions to parents and still divides public opinion. To be able to assess whether the introduction of unconventional ways of training is good for our children or not, we should know at least the basics of meditation and what effect it can create.
What are meditation and what mindfulness?
Educators involved in working with school children explain that in fact, these programs do not include a Hindu meditation method that can be characterized even as ‘zoning.’
Moreover, programs that are practiced in schools focus on mindfulness or more precisely – “zoning in.”
If you were talking about meditation as a state of heightened awareness – here you were about to live here and now in a state of increased awareness of decisions, relationships, and behavior.
What are the parents’ concerns?
People are concerned about the perceived religious aspects of meditation or mindfulness. Considering that religion should be omitted from a school program, they are worried that mindfulness is quite a controversial method.
Another concern that affects the public is the neglect of a traditional educational system, which they believe is right. Parents often support the detention as an educative measure, rather than half an hour of rest and meditation.
What are the benefits?
However, we can not ignore the first positive results that meditation or mindfulness in school classrooms already holds. In some schools, teachers were able to notice that pupils paid more attention, self-control, participation, and respect for others after a few weeks. As this study shows, the awareness program has the potential to result in a significant improvement in student behavior.
Is school meditation a matter of personal choice of parents and children?
Mindfulness or meditation in schools are adapted to different ethical frameworks and are not religious or spiritual. However, if for any reason, you do not want to be part of your child’s education, it should definitely be a matter of choice.
Take the chance and get to know what you see for the first time. Talk to educators and get informed. Likewise, schools that just introduce such programs often organize sessions for parents, when they can approach closer to what children get by using non-violent methods of punishment and meditation.
It is crucial that your child is also asked for an opinion. Of course, the kids will do everything to avoid detention or learning, but maybe it can bring some good. If you notice a positive difference in behavior, then drop the guard and try to get used to modern methods of education and training.