The practice of mindfulness meditation in schools has become increasingly trending, as of late. Due to this increased public interest, many biological and psychological studies have been conducted to truly understand the effects mindfulness meditation has on people. While these studies have concluded with different results, possibly due to including samples of differing ages, they seem to unanimously conclude that the practice of mindfulness meditation leads to a multitude of benefits. These benefits include, but are not limited to, reduced anxiety, increased calmness and physical relaxation, improved psychological balance, and an improved ability to cope with illness, and stress. These benefits that have been discovered more recently seem to be the driving factors in the exponential growth of the popularity of mindfulness meditation.
People tend to have a certain image that comes to mind when they hear the word “meditation” that usually involves people sitting cross-legged in a circle. While this is a way in which meditation can be practiced, many other methods exist, and such methods are being implemented in schools. One such method is the mindfulness which, “involves intentionally bringing awareness to present-moment experience with an attitude of openness and curiosity.” It can then be broken down into two major styles. These styles are focused attention and open monitoring. The more fundamental of the two, focused attention, “helps to settle the mind and reduce distractions”. Practicing the focused attention style of mindfulness meditation usually requires a specific process in order to make sure that the participant fully engages in the practice. In most cases, this means that the participant sit up straight in a chair with their arms in their lap and feet flat on the floor. Participants are also usually guided by a person or voice recording, which helps them focus their attention on specific part of their bodies or sensations. With this in mind, focused attention is the style which would be most beneficial for schools to adopt, since it is simple and requires very little equipment and time.
Due to the numerous benefits of such methods of meditation, school administrators have started to introduce mindfulness meditation into their students’ daily lives. While it is unknown how many schools have implemented mindfulness meditation so far, due to the fact that many use differing programs, there has been a clear increase in support for the implementation of such programs in schools. Many schools, mostly elementary schools, have taken unique approaches to implement meditation. Some schools are using it as an alternative to detention, a response to misbehavior, while others are using it as a way to improve mental health and increase self awareness. Mindfulness meditation in schools is not limited to these two examples. Each school seems to have its own unique vision of what mindfulness meditation is, signifying limitless possibilities for application and purpose.
Mindfulness meditation has recently captivated the attention of both the media and the public, prompting discussion over its potential application in the classroom. With such possibilities come questions. Do the benefits of mindfulness meditation validate national implementation of meditation into K-12 curriculum? If so, how would such programs be implemented? Are teachers qualified to instruct meditation? Would students be compliant?
Ben Purtell: We Need to Prioritize Some Students Over Others
Meg Trepp: Individualized Meditative Programs
Kyle Shutt: Meditation for All
Meagan Whalen: Bringing in the Disengaged: Requiring Students to Meditate
Olivia Vomero: Meditation Should Be Required For Grades K-12