Here’s a novel way to calm down kids who are acting up – send them off to the Mindful Moment Room.
This is the approach taken by Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, which offers school children meditation courses instead of detention, and with impressive results.
The meditation room was created in partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, a local nonprofit set up in 2001 by brothers Atman and Ali Smith, who grew up in the neighbourhood, along with their friend Andres Gonzalez.
Longtime meditators, they wanted to empower communities in the low-income high-crime area through mindfulness, yoga and self-care practices.
The programme featured in the August 2016 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, in which Gonzalez said he wanted all the students share their mindfulness practice at home.
“That’s how you stop the trickle-down effect, when Mum or Pops has a hard day and yells at the kids, and then the kids go to school and yell at their friends,” he said. “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘’I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.’”
A fifth grade student wrote on the Holistic Life Foundation website that: “Sometimes when I get mad I just breathe deep… I just, like I picture me being in a certain place I like, and I just thought I could overcome everybody and then I just stop being mad…I think of being a bigger person and doing something maybe a wise man would do… I think of something that a stronger, a mentally stronger person would do.” What more could you want from an exercise such as this?
Mindfulness in schools is evidently catching on. The Mindful Schools programme has also been set up in the US to “transform schools from the inside out”, and says it has trained educators from 50 US states and more than 100 countries in mindfulness.
In the UK, the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MSIP) was established by two school teachers and mindfulness practitioners, in the belief that teaching mindfulness skills to children in classrooms will help them cope when they encounter difficulty and flourish.
Mindful meditation has been around in some form or another for thousands of years, but researchers only recently began taking it seriously as a practice that can have positive effects on our minds and bodies. Not only can be used as a form of therapy, and but also as a fundamental life skill for all ages.