Buddhists and people of countless other faiths have practiced meditation for thousands of years. Many types of meditation seek to focus seriously on the present moment; it’s not always about clearing your mind.
In recent years, scientists have found that mindful meditation can treat a variety of conditions, like stress and depression. All these studies have focused on adults. None, however, focused on children. Enter Caroline Woods.
Woods is a first grade teacher at The Dharma primary school in Brighton. She begins each class every day with a few minutes in silent, mindful meditation. She’s found that it helps her students get control of negative thoughts and can help them cope with the stresses of their academic lives.
“The whole process of mindfulness has the knock-on effect of making people more receptive and open,” Woods explains. “What we are trying to do is help them become more aware of themselves in a non-judgemental way. By the time the students leave in year six, they have an emotional intelligence and a set of skills that really equip them to cope with everyday life.”
Claire Kelly, a former teacher, throws some cold water on the practice though.
“If you are not living the mindfulness principles yourself, the kids will know, they will be very cynical and you will probably put them off,” she says. “Likewise, if you teach them a lovely mindfulness lesson and then go out and kick the photocopier in the corridor, they will notice.”
She also warns prospective meditation teachers that unless the school’s leadership is on board, you’ll have trouble with your program. Additionally, results may not be immediate and it may not work with all students.
“There was a year group I was teaching and only a third of them at the time looked like they were really engaging with the practice,” she remembers. “But then about three years later, I had a phone call from an external invigilator who asked me to come down to the exam hall immediately. When I went down there I was surprised to see the same students doing a meditation practice in preparation for the paper they were about to sit.”
Here are 5 amazing tools to help introduce mindfulness and meditation into your life:
- Meditation for beginners
- Mindful mind skills
- 10 mindfulness exercises for the classroom
- Mindfulness and the art of chocolate eating
- A mindfulness relaxation exercise