Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. To be and to know the inner calm and stillness that exists within us all. It is not linked to any particular religion and can be extremely effective for students, staff, and anyone.
Meditation has many physical and mental benefits. The benefits of meditation are not limited and everyone is capable of reaping the rewards of this practice.
Benefits of Meditation at School
When classroom teachers use meditations they find that children are more cooperative and able to resolve conflict without interference quicker. Both students and teachers report that the classroom environment is more peaceful and inviting.
The students I have taught meditation to say they have used some of the breathing techniques to reduce stress before and during exams. Students report being able to help people around them be calmer and feel happier within.
Overall Benefits of Meditation for Youth
- Reduced Stress & Anxiety
- Reduction in the Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder
- A Calmer Sense of Being
- Ability to Sleep on a Regular Schedule
- Reduced Aggression
- A Sense of Relaxation, self awareness & tranquillity
- An Improvement in Concentration and creativity
- An increase in focus and memory
- A Healthier Mind and Body
- A Lower Risk of Possible Future Health Problems
Practicing meditation on a regular basis (even just a few minutes per day) will have great effects for both you and your students.
True story, this picture here is of a picture sent to Jeff after he visited a school community and talked about his mantra, “Inhale Peace, Exhale Love.” A young lady that weekend with the permission of her mother went and got this tattoo. Jeff doesn’t recommend his students get tattoos, but it’s amazing how impactful his moments can be.
Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.
In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.
Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.
Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.
In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.
OTHER MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”
Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Lower heart rate
- Less perspiration
- Slower respiratory rate
- Less anxiety
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- More feelings of well-being
- Less stress
- Deeper relaxation
Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.
The ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.
HOW TO MEDITATE: SIMPLE MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS
This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.