Meditation in schools is becoming increasingly popular with a growing number of studies showing the effectiveness of quiet reflection on stress, anxiety and ADHD. I have had the privilege of teacing over 200 students at Monsignor Doyle Secondary School in Mindfulness Mediation. In this article I share with you some tips and resources on how to do the same in your own school or one that is in your community.
The most popular techniques of meditation in schools are Mindfulness and the TM technique. These two have the most amount of academic research supporting their effectiveness. I feel both are great options because of their simplicity and secular nature.
Mindfulness is a simple focused attention of the present moment without judging what is happening – this can be of the breath, body sensations, sounds and thoughts.
Transcendental Meditation is a relaxed and focused attention on a special word or phrase, also known as a mantra, that is repeated during the quiet time of meditation.
For both of these techniques I’ve provided videos at the end of this article for you to see them in action followed by some resources to get you on your way.
A simple Meditation program for your school
In my experience simplicity, buy-in and ongoing support/incentive is the most important element in integrating a meditation program in anyone’s life, our days are too busy and there are just too many things going on to bring in a complex system.
The approach to get your faculty and your students on board is the same – it is integral to collaborate on a schedule to roll this program out, to create a space within the school or online for resources to be shared and to set and honour a time that all classes will share in quiet reflection.
Phase 1 – Name it and own it
Collaborate on a schedule to roll this out, a space for resource to be provided and a common time that all teachers will share in unison. Also it help to create a general name like “Quiet Time” that everyone will use along with a bell to mark the start of the practice. Create a simple guideline that both students and teachers can easily follow.
Phase 2 – Introduce the science and benefits
Providing your teachers with a solid insight to the academic resources available to them will deepen their own resolve to help roll out this program. A few sites that I like to share as introduction to those I work with are:
Phase 3 – provide the experience of meditation
Make this their own, use words and phrases that permit experimentation and inquiry. Rather than bring this upon your school let the school experience it for themselves.
This is where a professional teacher in mediation proves useful to help guide a resonant experience. If you have any questions or would like access to more resources feel free to contact me at anytime.
Below I’ve included a short 5 minute breathing space guided audio practice and a script for a longer mindfulness practice that you can make your own:
Phase 4 – Honor the space and support the time to practice
Support the implementation of the program with enthusiasm. A 10 minute reflection period within the day is integral for a health mind especially within our students and teachers. Plan for the continuation of the pilot program to its final completion with a daily implementation and dialogue of the importance of stress reduction within the school community.
Here is an example of the QT (Quiet Time) program provided by Edutopia.org
Setup and Process
To ensure success, the setup is critical. Students must be in their seats with their desks clear (unless they will be reading or writing during QT, which is permitted for students who elect not to meditate) and not talking. Though it may take time, a high-quality setup ensures a safe and consistent space for the students to close their eyes and optimizes the success of each session. (Download the Quiet Time Primer PDF 178KB.)
A good duration for QT in middle school is 15 minutes. After setup, the teacher uses a small bell to signal the steps of QT.
- The first bell at the beginning of minute zero signals the start of QT.
- The second bell at the end of minute 12 signals that there are three minutes remaining in QT.
- The third bell at the end of minute 15 signals the end of QT.
Mindfulness in Schools
Transcendental Meditation in schools
Documents to Help You Get Started
- Quiet Time Primer Introduction to implementing Quiet Time in the classroom
- Bell Schedule Bell schedule at Visitacion Valley Middle School
- Code of Conduct Visitacion Valley Middle School code of conduct for students
- Parent Letter Parent letter outlining the Quiet Time program at Visitacion Valley Middle School
- Parent Permission Form Permission form for students to be trained in Transcendental Meditation* as part of the Quiet Time program
Additional Resources on the Web
School Meditation Programs
- Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE) –The nonprofit organization responsible for implementing the Quiet Time program at Visitacion Valley Middle School; specializes in high-impact, whole-school transformation through meditation-based stress-reduction and readiness-to-learn programs
- MindUP — An educational initiative of The Hawn Foundation, is a mindful-awareness program developed in consultation with University of British Columbia professor Kimberly Schonert-Reichl
- Inner Kids — A mindful-awareness practices training program researched by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center
- Learning to BREATHE — A mindfulness-based curriculum for adolescents, developed by Patricia Broderick, a research associate at the Penn State University Prevention Research Center and former director of the Stress Reduction Center at West Chester University of Pennsylvania
- David Lynch Foundation — A nonprofit that funds the implementation of stress-reducing techniques including Transcendental Meditation for at-risk populations
- Mindful Schools — A program using mindfulness to teach kids how to manage emotion, handle stress and resolve conflict
- The Lineage Project — A program using awareness-based practices such as yoga and meditation to teach mindfulness to at-risk and incarcerated teenagers
- The Impact Foundation — A program that trains K-12 teachers in mindfulness through its SMARTinEDUCATION eight-week program
Guidelines to Lead Meditation
- Mindfulness: A Teacher’s Guide –– From PBS.org
- Tips for Teaching Mindfulness to Kids — From the Greater Good Science Center
- How To Teach The Relaxation Response — A series of seminar videos by Herbert Benson, graduate of and associate professor at Harvard Medical School
Resources for Learning Meditation
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) — Secular form of meditation that has been studied extensively and has been shown to improve a number of health indicators and shows strong potential for reducing stress
- Relaxation Response –– Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response is a physical state of deep rest that can be achieved through meditation; it has been shown to reduce physiological symptoms brought on by stress innumerous peer-reviewed studies
- Mayo Clinic YouTube Video — Video developed by Mayo Clinic about iPhone application for daily meditation practice