Meditation: A Useful Tool for Lower School Learners
“If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation” – The Dalai Lama
There is plenty of research that supports the positive effects of meditation and mindfulness. Neuroscientists can pinpoint the different parts of the brain that are impacted during different types of meditation. Mindfulness practices can also increase attention, help manage stress, increase self-regulation, and give students a sense of empowerment over their strong emotions.
I believe that children today deal with stressful feelings more than we did growing up. My students have big emotions. Sometimes they may feel scared, anxious, frustrated, or angry. It is our job as teachers to show them a healthy way to deal with these emotions so they are ready to learn.
To do this at Ellis, each day we begin our time together in our morning meeting with meditation. The girls take a few deep breaths, and then say together, “Peace begins with me.” They repeat this phrase over and over while touching their fingers to their thumbs. Their focus settles on their words and actions, allowing their minds and bodies to calm. This moment of mindfulness sets the tone for our day and helps us get ready to focus and learn. Alternatively, some days we do yoga or even guided relaxation as we visualize our “secret gardens,” a place where we can go to in our minds that makes us feel safe and peaceful. By teaching our students these mindfulness strategies, we are arming them with ways to handle their strong emotions in a healthy way.
In addition to utilizing these mindfulness strategies within the classroom, my students often tell me stories of how they have implemented mindfulness and meditation strategies throughout their lives as well. When do my students meditate? They’ve told me they have meditated: before getting the flu shot, in the car, in the calm down corner, while getting a cavity filled at the dentist, when they are upset with their siblings, and before going to sleep at night. That’s the amazing thing about giving our girls these strategies—they can use them anywhere, and they are.
Are we ending all violence in the world? Perhaps not. But are we equipping our girls to successfully go out into the world? Definitely.