Meditation as “Punishment”

I just read an article about an elementary school in Baltimore that is getting fabulous results from sending disruptive students to the “Mindfulness Moment Room” instead of to the principal’s office. And the results are astounding.

In an article in Upworthy, the author reports that students who are meditating instead of staring into corners or wasting their detention time doodling and not thinking about their behavior are more likely to have improved behavior in and out of the classroom. They are taught breathing techniques and how to think mindfully about their behavior and how it affects others. They learn to settle their minds, which in turn calms their behavior. That beats any time wasted in the detention hall.

In my previous career, I facilitated a group of home schooled kids from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every week day. Not a rigid depositing-knowledge-in-their-heads kind of home schooling, but a very free, exploratory method of learning. We introduced yoga right off the bat, then Qigong, and then meditation. It evolved over the years, but I eventually had kids asking, “Can we do meditation today?” Of course the answer was always “yes.” Even the kids diagnosed with ADD/ADHD would be still and follow the guided meditation. Of course there were days when kids had stuff going on in their lives or heads that really got in the way, so when I sensed it wasn’t going to be a meditation kind of day, we turned to yoga, a much more physical form of meditation, but meditation nonetheless. Guided yoga stretches and forms crossing the midline improved their mindsets and helped them stay more focused on whatever we did next. I’m a firm believer that every school should have meditation and yoga every day for every single student, teacher, and staff. Can you imagine what kind of environment that could create?

In the Upworthy article, it’s even mentioned that a student recognized some stress in her mom’s life and told her she needed to learn how to breathe. “What did you learn in school today?” “I learned how to help my mom calm down.” Can you picture a 10 year-old on the living room floor with mom saying, “Don’t worry about the form, just do your best, Mom. And breathe.”