Don’t Medicate or Punish: Meditate
My daughter shared a post from the Free Thought Project web page by John Vibes on Facebook that described how a school in Baltimore completely eliminated suspensions by sending children to a “mindful moment room” to wind down and meditate. Mr. Vibes writes of the project which has been underway at Robert W. Coleman Elementary in West Baltimore:
The new policy has been in place for over a year, and in the time that the meditation room has been set up, there has actually been no suspensions throughout the entire year.
The program is an initiative organized by the Holistic Life Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit organization committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities.
Andres Gonzalez, one of the organizers of the project, says that children are even bringing home what they are learning to their families.
“That’s how you stop the trickle-down effect, when Mom or Pops has a hard day and yells at the kids, and then the kids go to school and yell at their friends,” he says. “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,‘” Gonzalez said.
As one who witnessed an explosion in the use of medications to “control” impulsive behaviors and ADHD in children and one who has witnessed the positive effects of meditation, I am heartened to see that schools are applying the research on meditation in classrooms. And, as Vibes notes in his post, meditation isn’t necessarily limited to sitting on a cushion:
A bike ride, a walk under the stars, writing poetry, or any practice that offers individual quiet time within your own heart and mind can be considered a form of meditation.
Sadly, in many cases, children raised in poverty seldom experience quiet time when they can look within their own hearts an minds and be in the present moment. I believe if schools spent more time focusing on the present moment and less on preparing for tests that the well-being of children would improve dramatically… and that the test scores would improve as the children’s well-being improves. We know this: it doesn’t work the other way around.