No one would have imagined a century ago that meditation, a practice mainly found in Eastern cultures, would become one of the most beneficial tools in modern Western schools and universities. Buddhists and countless other people from Eastern religions have practiced mindfulness meditation for centuries, even millennia. Now, it is time for Western cultures to follow in their example and capitalize on the huge benefits of meditation in schools.
Table of Contents
- 1 Meditation in Public Schools – A Whole New Trend
- 2 Meditation in High Schools – How Can Students Benefit of Mindfulness Meditation?
- 3 benefits of meditation in school for children and students
- 4 Benefits of Meditation for Teachers
- 5 Is Mindfulness the Solution?
- 6 How to Teach Mindfulness in the Classroom
Meditation in Public Schools – A Whole New Trend
In recent years, more and more studies have been conducted on this new, yet ancient activity called meditation. Scientists from prestigious universities from across the country have found that meditation can successful treat a wide variety of conditions, including depression and stress. While most of these studies have been conducted on adults, many teachers from various high schools have decided to start to teach meditation to children. The results were above expectations. The stress was reduced by up to 50% and both students and children’s behaviors have improved dramatically.
Meditation in schools is a whole new trend whose aim is to calm minds and help children and students cope with stress like never before. As of 2015, over 100 schools in more than 15 states are already using meditation for kids and meditation with students. They have dedicated classes in which both teacher and students meditate together and reap the benefits of mindfulness meditation.
According to meditation in schools research, students and children who practice mindfulness meditation on a daily basis are 20% more creative in class, have 25% fewer absences, 29% fewer suspension days and commit 50% fewer rule infractions. With these great results, it’s no doubt that the number of schools that choose to make meditation a regular practice are on the rise.
Meditation in High Schools – How Can Students Benefit of Mindfulness Meditation?
Better focus, greater relaxation, improved self-awareness and an improved sense of calm are among the top benefits of practicing meditation in schools. However, numerous studies conducted in the education environment prove that meditation brings with it some exceptional positive changes in the classroom. For instance, a study published in the well-famed Journal of Applied School Psychology demonstrated that meditation exercises helped kids with ages between 7 and 10 do better in school and reduce their anxiety. On the same line, another study showed that mindfulness exercises are perfect at increasing optimism, improving attention span and reducing aggression for children and teenagers of ages between 13 and 15.
Teachers reported that their relationships with students have greatly improved, classes are more peaceful and that students are more willing to invest in themselves. All of that is the direct result of mindfulness meditation practices.
At its most basic, mindfulness meditation practices give young children the opportunity to enjoy the unique feeling of being still and quiet. In a world where adults have no more time for everything else, children are happy to have plenty of time at their disposal. When it comes to meditation, they have time to meditate, both at home and in any other location. What better other location should they meditate in than in the safe environment of school?
Meditation for children is definitely a must-do practice. We have all heard that childhood is a carefree time, and that children do not experience problems. Why that there are so many problems in our schools and Universities? Why so many students behave bad at school, both with other students and with the teachers? Children and students experience many fears, so they need to be helped overcome these fears. The best way to help them is to establish a constant routine of mindfulness meditation in schools.
benefits of meditation in school for children and students
– Cope with stress, anxiety and low self-esteem
– Fight and overcome any type of fears
– Improve self-esteem and gain a positive image about themselves
– Get rid of negative behaviors and thoughts
– Fight disease and enjoy an improved immune system
– Get along better with others and create long-lasting friendships
Benefits of Meditation for Teachers
Not only students and children can reap the huge benefits of meditation, but teachers can also make the most out of this new concept and can learn how to use it in their advantage. Teachers are always poised to give and to help. However, most of the time, they have nothing left for themselves, and that’s why most of them struggle with low self-esteem and a negative image about themselves.
Through meditation, they can learn how to replenish their powers and can give something back to themselves. As a consequence, they gain more energy for themselves and learn how to live more fulfilling lives. According to the latest meditation in schools statistics, teachers part of those 100 schools where meditation is mandatory are much more balanced and effective than other teachers, and they are able to cope with the daily stress without reaching a breaking point. Mindfulness meditation helps teachers remain effective and balanced while finding the inner strength to continue.
When the researchers from the University of Indiana started to study whether meditation is indeed effective at reducing the anxiety, stress and burnout of teachers, they were astounded to realize that after just a couple of weeks after meditating, most teachers started to feel less emotionally worn and exhausted, happier and more prepared to handle daily tasks. After two months, almost all teachers reported that they were ready to respond to the students’ questions at a more personal level.
The teachers who were part of this study declared that they felt:
– More objective
– Better organized
– Less worried about the students and about issues related to the school
– More tolerant with their students’ behavior and more aware of their students’ needs and wants
– More confident in themselves
– More eager to help their students
– Able to deal with several problems at the same time while still keeping their cool
Another study published recently in the Stress and Health Magazine proves that meditation is extremely effective at reducing teachers’ stress levels and at helping them stay in control of their feelings. According to this study, just 45 minutes of meditation training sessions a day enabled teachers to become less stressed emotionally and behave better around students.
Meditation has proved to be an invaluable tool for many teachers, enabling them to cope with stress and enabling them to respond appropriately to the enormous amount of stress they have to deal with while in the classroom. Generally speaking, teachers and educators who meditate, both in class and while at home, are less stressed and are better equipped to respond to the various stress factors in the class. Ultimately, they can better adapt to the increasing demands of their jobs and can stay on top of every situation that might arise.
Is Mindfulness the Solution?
As the government turn to mindfulness as the simplest and most cost-effective method to improve the decadent education system, teaching mindfulness in schools has become a necessity. At the moment there are many mindfulness school programs spread all across the nation, the continent and even across other continents. The US, UK, Canada and Australia have already many of these programs in place.
As of the summer of 2015, these mindfulness have brought the benefits of mindfulness meditation in over 10,000 schools and more than 5 million children from all around the world. These programs are secular, extremely effective and privately or governmental funded.
This unique technique of mindfulness meditation capitalizes on the breathing exercises used in yoga and meditation, enabling the practitioners to become more aware of the surroundings and of themselves. All of this is done in a non-judgmental way, protecting the practitioners from being overwhelmed by their negative feelings and enabling them to take hold of all of these feelings.
Mindfulness enables students and children in school to focus more on the present moment rather than being distracted while thinking of the future. Additionally, this practice protects students from one of the biggest threats of the century – mental health issues. According to the World Health Organization, the number of mental health cases will grow exponentially by 2030, by over 200%, making it to become the biggest burden of modern medicine. This is where mindfulness comes in, helping those who suffer from mental health issues or those students prone to similar conditions to be protected.
The modern crisis is far from being over. The clash of complex personalities combined with the stress that can be literally felt into the air lead to depression, low self esteem, lack of happiness and even lose of personality. Because of this, the brain tends to fixate on the immediate problem rather than on a strategic solution or solutions to the problem. Fortunately, mindfulness can be used to calm the body down, improve peace and take control of the thoughts.
Meditation in schools has also been found to be extremely effective in reducing levels of stress hormone cortisol in students and promote emotional intelligence and creativity. There is no doubt that mindfulness is not also extremely effective for adults, but also for children. When applied in schools, it can increase children’s performance and help them deal with the increasing pressure of life.
How to Teach Mindfulness in the Classroom
Teaching mindfulness to students requires hours of preparation and expertise. Meditating all by yourself is quite simply once you learn a few steps. However, teaching up to 30 boys and girls how to meditate is a whole new matter. Here are some guidelines specifically created for educators who want to capitalize on the power of mindfulness meditation and incorporate this unique practice into the lives of their students.
- Establish the Purpose of Mindfulness
Although this is a tool most of the students can use in life on their own, it is imperative to ensure that the connotation of this term remains accurate and that the purpose is well defined. Mindfulness should never be used as a disciplinary tool, but as an educational one and one that can provide comfort and equilibrium to students.
- Choose the Right Time
While most Higher Education Providers and High Schools have meditation classes in place, teachers can choose to take 15 minutes from their class and dedicate this time to meditation. Choose the right time for meditation and let children experience the benefits of mindfulness meditation when you see the need for it.
- Create the Right Environment
Try to make children realize that mindfulness is a truly special time, one set aside for peace and tranquility. Remove the carpet or add a new one, clear off desks and do any other tasks necessary to ensure the environment is safe for this activity. If you have a certain meditation song, do not forget to add your stereo system and mp3 player at school.
- Get them Involved
The easiest way to remember that you need to practice mindfulness meditation with your students is to keep them involved in this practice. You can start by creating a rotation schedule and choose one or two students a week to remind you of this practice and to post updates on the class’ Facebook group.
Another great way to keep your students involved into the meditation sessions is to let them be creative and come up with extra elements during the meditation sessions. This means you have to be open to new ideas and changes. Allow every student to do his part and you will not be disappointed with how the things work out.
- Get Creative
You do not have to practice the same thing every day and use the same meditation techniques every time you do this practice. There are various meditation techniques you can use. You can start with mindfulness meditation and continue with an advanced version.
- Keep them Disciplined
Lastly, in order to enjoy great meditation sessions which are both rewarding and pleasant, you need to make sure your class is disciplined. Mindful meditation is not a boring activity and they should realize it. Even though in the beginning you might have some issues making them stand still, you will ultimately end up with a great group of kids or students willing to practice mindfulness meditation along with you.
If for any reason some kids refuse to practice mindfulness, let them spend some time alone with themselves or give them a 15-minutes break. In the end, this is not a mandatory activity, unless it is a 1-hour meditation class.