In Ontario, our Ministry of Education encourages elementary and secondary schools to promote parental engagement through various onsite workshops, lectures and courses. School Councils (formerly the Parent Teacher Assoc) are asked to reseach topics they would like to pursue and then, apply from the appropriate grant funding. Last week our School Council presented a lecture on anxiety in children, and upon attending I realized all three of my children (while only one is diagnosed) suffer from some form of anxiety, in fact we all do adults and children alike. We live in a world of high expectations, multi tasking and constant distractions, it is no wonder we as a society are finding it increasingly difficult to handle the stressors of everyday life. As a result, more amd more of us are subject to bouts of anxiety (in some cases debilitating), panic attacks and chronic depression. Unfortunately, there appears to be no end to this craziness, in fact it only promises to get worse, so what are we doing as parents and educators to prepare our children? Are we giving new generations the tools they need to navigate through the pressures and stressors of thier world? Not yet.
One of the fastest growing practises in our society, and we here at the Oasis Movement have sung its prasises is “meditation”; a series of practises and techniques which help transform ones mind, by helping to improve concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm emotional state of being. When practised regularly, meditation is a highly effective tool to combat anxiety, fear, anger and confusion. In light of this, a series of schools in the United States have created mediation rooms, where young overwrought minds can go to quietly decompress and relfect. A school in Baltimore Maryland, sends their kids to the “Mindful Moment Room”, instead of detention whenever they are misbehaving or acting out, this helps children to “calm down and re centre” through a series of breathing exercises. This practise essentially unplugs the child from the situation and gives them the time to calm down, re focus and then, re flect upon their behaviour in a more constructive manner. The benefits continue well past their time in the “Mindful Moment Room” , one student claimed he used these techniques to calm his anxiety during a test ” I took deep breaths to stay calm and just finish the test. When everybody around you is making a lot of noises just trying to tune them out… and be yourself, do your breathing.”
Meditation can be an effective tool in diffusing conflicts and arguments; by remembering to breathe and stay focused, one becomes more responsive to the situation rather than reactive, and less inclined to loose control. Breathing exercises which help us relax and regain focus also help to reinforce the idea that you can remain in control of your situation. Teachers have also found that mindful meditation can be used by older kids as a preventative measure ” [My students] are not all on the same page, so instead of disrupting everyone else, they can use the mindfulness on their own to start breathing and maybe not burst out or pick on the kid next to them, because that’s what teenagers do.”
We at the Oasis Movement would like to call on all educators to explore the benefits of mindful meditationin their classrooms, our world is ever changing and chaotic why not arm the next generation with the apropriate tools to order the chaos?