Meditation Techniques For Ed Students

Educators across the country are experimenting with stress reducing techniques derived from Buddhist meditation practices to help students stay calm and focused in the classroom. In what is being called “mindfulness training,” students learn how to be “in the present moment” by engaging in focused breathing or concentrating on a single object. In addition to helping students stay focused on their school work, the techniques are said to help them deal with anger and other negative feelings.

In fact, several studies have shown that these practices can have positive effects in the on individuals suffering from both emotional and physical ailments. As early as 1979, medical patients of John Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in the field, found relief from chronic pain, anxiety, and depression by using Buddhist techniques. A more recent study done by Kaiser Permanente found that “meditation practices helped improve mood disorders, depression, and self-harming behaviors like anorexia and bulimia.” The testimonies of children who have used the techniques serve to further strengthen the case for teaching them. One girl described finding relief from what is called “negative internal chatter” or in her words, “the gossip inside my head: I’m stupid, I’m fat, or I’m going to fail math.” Another student said that it made her “feel calm, like something on Oprah.”

For students with emotional and behavioral disorders, perhaps taking time out between academic tasks to close eyes and focus on breathing wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Many of these students suffer from the same kinds of ailments (depression, anxiety etc.) that individuals in the studies suffered from. As one researcher points quoted in the article points out, “parents and teachers tell kids 100 times a day to pay attention… but we never teacher them how.” While meditation may not work for everyone, it is one way to show them how.

Contributed by: Mike Lederman

Brown, Patricia Leigh. (June 16, 2007). “In the Classroom, a New Focus on Quieting the Mind”