Meditation helps with 25% fewer class absences, 38% fewer suspensions, and 50% fewer rule infractions. (mindfulschools.org)
Meditation improves overall classroom engagement by helping students increase focus & attention, overcome stress & anxiety, boost their emotional intelligence and enhance creativity. Research proves that meditation physically changes the brain and body, and helps to promote healthy behaviors. Giving students the opportunity to start a life long meditation practice may be one of the greatest gifts you impart to them. Also, to yourself. Understand that the word “practice” is used because learning to meditate is a journey, not a destination. Even the Dalai Lama has shared that his mind wanders and that each time he meditates, he explores another part of the journey. It is not about perfection, meditation is about learning to work with the breath, slowing down and rewiring the brain so that we can be healthier and happier.
Improves ability to regulate emotions
Reduces depression, anxiety & stress
Increases empathy & positive emotions
Increases sense of well-being & connectedness
Increases focus & attention
Improves ability to be creative & multitask
Helps the brain reduce distractions
Improves ability to introspect
Enhances immune, respiratory and digestive function
Aids in overcoming addictions
Helps relieve physical and emotional pain
Lowers blood pressure & heart rate
How To Meditate For Beginners
Sit or lie comfortably and close your eyes.
Focus your attention gently on the breath.
Slowly relax the mind and body deeper and deeper.
Watch the space between your thoughts grow longer and longer.
Keep returning your attention to the breath.
When thoughts come up, acknowledge them and let them float away. Remind students to not judge the thoughts that come up. The goal is to become an observer of their thoughts. Sometimes it helps to count the breath in and count the breath out. For example, try breathing in for 5 seconds and breathing out for 5 seconds; or pick a number that works for them.
There are numerous types of meditation, but most have these basic elements in common:
A quiet space with as few distractions as possible
A specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions)
A focus of attention (a chosen word, object, or the sensations of the breath)
An open attitude (letting distractions come and go without judging them)
Move Past Challenges
Students might become sleepy or find themselves falling asleep, it’s okay. They may feel restless or uncomfortable because their mind is moving a hundred miles per minute. Both are normal. Remind them that it will get easier with time and just to come back to the breath.
Student may experience remembering old thoughts or experiences that they may not have worked through. With negative thoughts, this may happen because problems have not been resolved. Remind them that it’s resurfacing as an opportunity to work through the thoughts and emotions. It is best to lean in instead of run away from them.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to start a meditation practice- even if it’s five minutes per day, even if you skip it because you are too busy one day, even if you’ve tried before and fell out. Pick it back up. This is an opportunity to go on a profound journey with your students that can last a lifetime. You can both create a practice that boosts your health, happiness, productivity, emotional intelligence, and social connectedness in the classroom and beyond.
Set a “minutes per day” goal for yourself and ask your students to do the same. Remind them that the more they put into the practice, the more they get out of it. Share your personal experience of meditation with your students. Hold each other accountable and encourage each other to stick with it. Form a classroom support system.
Suggestion for when to meditate: try meditating first thing in the morning, right when you get home from school or before you go to bed. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed for at least five minutes. If you’re not able to find a quiet space, use the time right before you go to sleep.