Meditation in the Classroom
Meditation has gained a lot of mainstream attention. I remember being a teenager in a small, rural community in the heartland during the eighties, and my interest in meditation contributed to my somewhat out-of-sync persona. Nowadays, though, one is more likely to be considered to be at odds with contemporary culture if meditation is not incorporated into one’s life in some form.
According to an article published by Harvard Health Publishing, “Mindfulness meditation alters regions of the brain associated with memory, awareness of self, and compassion, according to a brain imaging study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.” This has significant implications for students who have experienced trauma, and for those of us working with them.
If you are a professional working with students in a school setting, you have most likely been introduced to the concept of trauma-informed practices. Hopefully, you’ve had some training, and in that training you’ve learned about how the brain is altered by traumatic experiences. These changed brains are the reasons our students have so much difficulty focusing on academics, and such great trouble functioning in a healthy relationship.
Armed with this knowledge, wouldn’t you be excited to practice a classroom strategy that would help improve memory, self-awareness, and compassion? Wouldn’t you be just practically dancing with delight to have a tool that does all of this and is as pleasant to practice as it is easy to prep? Get ready to smile as you breathe easy…meditation is about to get your classroom LIT! (Your students say “lit”, right?) Okay, I’m an English teacher so check out “lit”.
If you’re not a regular to meditation in your own life, then you might feel a tad apprehensive. It might be akin to the feeling I had when my trainer told me to do box jumps; 40 of them; on a two-foot box.
“Ummm… no,” I just heard you say? Trust me. Really. It is a piece of cake. It’s easier than a piece of cake! A lot easier than box jumps! It’s without a doubt easier than knocking sweets out of your diet! I’ll show you how
Go to your computer (or your smartphone) and make sure you have volume adequate to be heard by the crowd in your room. Pull up YouTube. Search “honest guys meditation.” Choose one that fits your time parameter, or, if you sense that your students are feeling a certain way, select a topic to meet their needs (you’re probably already gifted at sniffing out the issues). If you’re just starting out, you might want to choose a 5 to 7-minute meditation.
Expect some groans and resistance from your students, especially if they’ve never done it. But here’s a hint: just pretend you are a pro at this!
Do not let the students get even a whiff of apprehension from you because they can sense it like a dog senses fear – and then you’ve lost them.
Keep up the act and let them know that while seven minutes of this might sound challenging, soon they’ll be a pro like you, and will be clamoring for 30 minutes or more of this goodness!
Meditation is one of my favorite strategies because, not only is it pleasant, but there is so much evidence out there to support the practice, that we’re ridiculous if we don’t practice it. I included one link above, but you should search the literature to learn more about the evidence in favor of meditation.
Do a google search for “scholarly articles on meditation”. Bazinga!
This is not like another of the many 3-hour workshops you’ve attended where you learned a strategy that only provides the author’s anecdotal information as evidence. Meditation has brain-imaging, blood pressure data, and more to demonstrate its efficacy!
Give it a try and let me know how it goes. If you’re already practicing meditation regularly in your classroom, Namaste.