MEDITATION IN SCHOOLS
In previous modules we’ve explored community building and conflict resolution practices that are built around how to effectively communicate one’s emotions, how to actively listen, and how to facilitate talking circles that foster story telling and communal sharing. Speaking and listening, however, are only the interpersonal parts of the peaceable community equation. Intrapersonal reflection and self-care are also a key part of building peaceable learning environments and much of that involves no sound at all, but are rather built around silence, breathing, and meditation.
This short video, Quiet Transformation, tells the story of Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, CA that integrated daily quiet time mediation into their learning community as a way to address the social and emotional needs of the students. The impact was remarkable as students, teachers, and parents started to see problems with truancy, violence, and suspensions drop.
Reflection Question: Have you ever participated in a quiet time meditation similar to the kind featured in the video above? If so, what was the experience like? In what context was it practiced? If not, can you think of a moment in your life (past or present) where a quiet time meditation would have helped you ready yourself for learning?
- Cowan, Megan. Tips for Teaching Mindfulness to Kids. Greater Good Science Center: March 13, 2010.
- Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education.
- Edutopia. Infographic: Meditation in Schools across America. Edutopia.org: February, 2012.
- Nobori, Mariko. How to Start a Meditation Program in Your School. Edutopia.org: February, 2012.
I use quiet time quite a lot. Usually when kids are acting too excitedly. I used a chime to calm down classroom and kids sitting down on carpet. I set up a time for five minutes, but if students are laughing or talking, I will make the timer go longer untill there is zero sound. It is very useful because students engage in learning much better after that . I also use it during lunch time when kids can’t talk out loud. The quietness makes entire classroom peaceful.
I have participated in quiet time (which is now woven into the school day in every classroom in our school) however this time often looks very different from one classroom to the next. In my classroom, quiet time is 20 minutes after lunch during which students sit quietly and are able to read, draw, or just be. I turn off the lights and open the blinds and most days I play music (students vote on whether or not they want the music). I think I allows students an opportunity to shift gears mentally and to calm their bodies after running around on the playground. Whatever things they had going on at lunch or on the playground, that once spilled over into the classroom, they now have time to let go of and move forward.
I wish I had some transition like this for myself often times so that I could regroup and reflect.
I really liked the video on quiet time. I can see myself applying something like this in my teaching practice, especially following a lunch period. I would use this activity to calm my classroom down in an effort to refocus my students. I do have some experience in this area, in that I had a teacher in high school Mr. Rapp who used a very similar technique. In his health class if the class period followed lunch he would allow the class to nap for about 5 or 10 minutes. He would turn off the lights and just allow the class to mellow out, at the conclusion of that time he would then begin that day’s instruction. Looking back I guess this was his version of quiet time.
I have participated in meditation in the form of prayer. I enjoy having quiet time daily to clear my mind and focus on how good God is to me through prayer. I participate in meditation where it is quiet to digress from my busy schedule. I like to pray daily to give thanks, show my gratitude and just reflect on my daily activities. This is a wonderful feeling with my eyes closed and I take a deep breath to inhale and exhale. I feel as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I enjoyed watching the video of the staff showing great techniques and how effectively the quiet time is ran in their school. I will be trying to implement quiet time twice a day in my class. I too have a great group of students, but at times they can be very active, loquacious, and energetic.
I have not participated in mediation, but viewing the video I wish I knew about this the previous school year because I needed that before my 3rd period class of 9th graders. They were the most rambunctious group of students I have ever taught. I am definitely going to use this school year. And hopefully I can get them to try it also. Think big!
I have practiced quiet time on a regular basis especially at a church setting, during my prayer time, daily peace action and at one time in a school setting using a reading program.
The experience in most cases were calming and reflective and in the end I felt a sense of peacefulness.
In the reading program students were allowed to be quiet before a period of active listening session and at the end of the session, they were allowed quiet time as a reflective tool for what they have learned. I believe the program was called Success For All. The reading program was very responsive and engaging for students. The introduction of the program in my school at the time did result in an improvement of students’ behavior in my class.
I’ve had a practice of prayer for years. Sometimes I’ve written in a daily prayer journal. These days, I pray when I go for a walk every day. Sometimes I pray in a meditative format, sitting quietly in one place concentrating on one phrase or trying to clear my mind. Most times, though, I just talk inside my head about various issues. I may focus on gratitude or coping with a particular problem. During the school year I often pray for my students.
For several years, I participated in a yoga class once a week, but I haven’t done that for about five years. I do stretching exercises if I feel tense that come from those yoga classes.
Prayer helps me to keep a center that is calm. It helps me to cope with life. Often I have thoughts that move me in a new direction or help me to think of new way to approach something.
I have had practice with quiet time during yoga sessions and during our daily peace action at the beginning of class. When I take yoga classes, it is usually during the morning. The quiet times are a way to prepare for the day. I appreciate and enjoy these meditation times because they help clear my mind of stress, feel peaceful, and adopt a positive outlook for the day. The daily peace action quiet time was used as a way to end my day. I appreciated and enjoyed these meditation times because they also helped clear my mind of stress, find peace, and, as a result, fall asleep more easily.
When I practiced yoga a few years ago, my absolute favorite part of the class was the last ten minutes of class when we typically did deep relaxation in CORPSE POSE. We focused on our breathing and consciously relaxed every muscle in our body, we were instructed not to let our mind wander and if it did, then to think only about breathing and relaxation. I remember feeling very calm and at peace at the end of this pose when I was able to do this correctly. I think my attitudes toward the stress I encounter at work could be improved if I were to take time to meditate, and I absolutely see how students can apply this particular practice to their lives.
The only time I have experienced quiet time was during a yoga class that I was participating in. It was the best, thinking about nothing. Watching that video has my mind, wheels turning. How can I implement this into my class, will they be receptive to this new and strange idea. One thing I would like to know is, is their a topic they are thinking about or is the mind free to wonder? Can we discuss their thoughts, does it have to be at the beginning and end of class? If done correctly I can see this being a huge success. Will definitely try this.
I have practiced transcendental meditation off and on for the past 30plus years. But, it has always been practiced alone in private. I find it extremely helpful in quieting and helping me focus.
In April of this year I took a group of students on a fieldtrip to the “Breaking the Cycle of Violence, Town Hall Meeting” At that meeting, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, led the entire audience, about 300 people in guided meditation. It was a very relaxing and peaceful experience. The purpose of the session, as explained, was to demonstrate how meditation can release stress and how to it is applicable for use with a large group (i.e. a whole class or groups of classes).
Maria Schneider: I have participated in a meditation “quiet time” similar to the one featured in the video. In my middle school choir class my teacher would every so often start off the class with a kind of meditation where we would lay on our backs on the floor and have us relax our muscles, then she would ask us to let go of what was taking up our thoughts and instead think of a relaxing place, sound, picture, view, activity etc. We also did a similar exercise with my volleyball team in high school, where we would do a quiet relaxation activity and then our coach would have us go through motions, attacks, offense/defense in our heads to mentally prepare us for a match.
These exercises were extremely important, and helped me settle down and focus. I think they would be more beneficial to me now in class when the semester gets hectic. However I think it’s important to have a facilitator because it’s hard to do make yourself do it on your own time.
Daniel Knoll – I’ve taken yoga classes where meditation was used, but I’ve never had the opportunity for meditation in a formal classroom setting like the one shown in the video. I think that for me, quiet time would be incredible helpful before taking tests. Before I start a test im often nervous and anxious to get started, and when I get the test I just start looking for answers and often forget to read the whole question and miss critical information to do perform as well as I should. I think that taking a couple of minutes of quiet would really help me prepare to take a test.
I would have loved to see more about how the meditation program was implemented. I’m curious how the students were first introduced to the program and what, if any kind of push back there was from teachers, parents or students.
I have never participated in something like this though I could’ve seen it being useful in high school, especially senior year when classes were difficult and the stress of college hunting was extreme. I think most people don’t make quiet time a priority in their day even though it’s so important, so having it mandated and scheduled into your day is a good way to make sure it happens.
I haven’t made meditation part of a regular routine to deal with difficulties and stress. I have meditated, and used mediation to deal with stress, but I think it would be a really wonderful tool to use regularly. I imagine that it would be helpful to deal with work-place stress, relationship issues, etc.
I have never participated in any sort of quiet time exercise in a school setting. I think I would have greatly benefitted from this in middle/high school. I associate those times with social anxiety and academic stress, and if I had had the opportunity to sit down and collect myself at the beginning and ending of each day, I might have been more relaxed about those things. I would love to do this with my 7th grade class. They are rambunctious all the time, and I think they could really benefit from forced silence. I don’t think they ever get silence at school, which probably means they don’t have a lot of time for personal reflection. A lot of fighting goes on between our students, and I think having the time for each student to be calm every day would help this problem.
I have never participated in a meditation program similar to this one. However, it seems really awesome. I would certainly find meditation to be helpful for myself when I’m stressed or feeling self effacing after giving a presentation. I tend to have unreasonably high standards for myself when I speak in front of a group and will literally reflect on every word I said, how it was said and if it was the best word choice. This type of obsession over words can be stressful for me, thus, meditating after a presentation would calm my racing thoughts.
I have never participated in these types of meditation time – whenever I really need a minute, I usually just go sit in my car where it is quiet or sit in my classroom in the mornings, but I definitely see a few moments in my life where I would be able to use this. I think our staff could definitely try this after a particularly trying day. I also think our students, especially ones that have been targeted for our mentoring program or who are really struggling with home situations, would benefit from using this at the mentoring program. For me, I’ve found it beneficial to have informal moments like this on my own.
I have never participated in a meditation process like this. However, I long for it everyday. Usually these days I grab it in the copy room. While waiting for the machine to warm up, I stretch and think about the big picture – what’s most important (from my perspective). It’s a small thing, but I try to let it carry me throughout the day.
Meditation time is probably the (only) reason I’ve continued to practice yoga over the years! I love being forced into setting aside even just a few minutes to relax and think about my breathing and my body because I seem to never make the time to do it on my own. The yoga that I practiced in Italy was an hour long session of yoga and the last half hour was meditation. Because I have high blood pressure, I have searched for ways in which to regulate my blood pressure through meditation and breathing exercises. I went to a naturopathic doctor back home for a while who worked a lot on breathing exercises and gave me some books on the importance of breathing correctly. I think that a lot of my blood pressure issues stem from stress and improper breathing and definitely believe in the importance of meditation and relaxation. For me, incorporating breathing exercises and having ‘direction’ while meditating is particularly important to keep my mind from wandering. I think that it is important sometimes to not only sit in silence, but to receive direction of where to turn my attention to ensure that I am properly meditating and not just going over all of the things I still have to do in my head. I love the idea of setting aside time in the day for students to meditate-even if it’s only for a few minutes. Often people get caught up with the hustle and bustle of daily life that they don’t take time out to do this for themselves. Starting at a young age may encourage students to work this into their daily lives.
The closest I have come to a silent time in an academic setting was a short unit we did in my 5th grade class. Every study lay down on the floor with their eyes closed. The goal was to count to 30 (the number of students in the class) without communicating with each other. For example, one person would have to decide to say one to start. No one else could say “one” at the same time or we would have to start over. Since we didn’t have pre-assigned numbers the task involved a lot of listening and focus. While it wasn’t strictly “meditating” it did teach us similar skills and was also a good listening exercise.
In college I have meditated in class and also led meditations for Altbreak session. This is a wonderful way to center yourself before learning and makes you feel more bonded to your fellow classmates. However, I do sometimes get annoyed by the fact that I am “paying” for something could do on my own right before or after class.
Unfortunately, I have not participated in a quiet time meditation, in an educational setting, similar to the one in the video. Sometimes I regulate my own quiet time meditations when I am feelings particularly stressed or overwhelmed – I started this during my college years to self-monitor my stresses, but I wish that I had realized the importance of quiet time during my younger years. I love the idea of students meditating first thing in the morning before they start classes. With the hectic nature of today’s world and all the emotional stresses on students, I can definitely see how a few moments of silence can be extremely beneficial. Silence allows me to gather my thoughts, think of my purpose, and prepare myself for the days work. Meditation allows me to completely clear my head of stresses and anxieties. Students bring to the school all of their troubles from home, friends, relationships, etc. and meditation allows them to drop this baggage at the door, clear the slate, and begin a fresh new day of learning.
The closest practice to meditation that I experienced in an academic setting was the state mandated moment of silence in my middle and high school years. This was about a minute every morning that was set aside for quiet, and was often used by students for prayer or meditation – or sleep. The biggest impediment to anything further, I think, would have been centered upon the structure of the silence. In my youth and today, this is the source of political contention.
I enjoyed the morning moment of silence, because it gave me a chance to organize my thoughts and get ready for the day. There were few times when I was alone with my thoughts and this opportunity was welcome. Even thought the time was brief, it was effective for me. Even today, I like to set aside quiet time when I get in to work in order to reflect on the day ahead and prepare myself mentally for the arrival of the students.
I have never participated in a quiet time meditation featured in the video. However, I have participated in similar meditation prior to operational and managerial retreats at the World Bank. These were useful in helping to reflect on learning to take place and/or that had taken place during the retreat.
I haven’t participated in such a mediation program, but I wish I had, because this program seems INCREDIBLE. Not only because the video was shot so beautifully/convincingly, but because it’s easy to understand why children are so deprived of simple quiet – and what effects that can have.
The times I have meditated have been during yoga classes and sometimes during dialogue with other Alternative Break participants. Those times have been meaningful, but because they’re not part of a routine, I can’t say they prepared me to learn something better. In my life now, I think meditation could definitely help me focus before a test, or before I begin a writing or reading project. Often when I’m doing work, I find myself really distracted, and it might be as a result of not pausing between one activity and the next.