Planting Mindfulness: Meditation Kicks Detention Out
For thousands of years, meditation has been known for its wonderful benefits to our mind and body. Meditation relaxes tense muscles, regulates blood flow and eases stress, anxiety and frustrations keeping an individual calm. It is traditionally known as a personal practice and is practiced in private spaces. However, a school in Baltimore is making a significant shift when it comes to its students’ disciplinary actions. Instead of detention, Robert W. Coleman Elementary is teaching meditation to each of its pupils to combat misbehavior.
The program was made possible with the help of Holistic Life Foundation, a locally based non-profit organization that has been offering their program called Holistic Me to schools for more than 17 years now, targeting students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.
Mindful Moment Room
Robert W. Coleman Elementary replaced detention with meditation. A room designed specifically for the sole purpose of meditation is unlike any detention rooms you’ve ever seen. The Mindful Moment Room is well lit and nicely decorated, with purple pillows on the floor, Yoga mats and the atmosphere is scented with essential oils.
Detention does not effectively help students.
More than a quarter of residents in Baltimore live under the poverty line. More than 80% of students in Baltimore are qualified for free or discounted lunch. Some are homeless. Some have seen hideous crimes around their neighborhoods. Some are victims of abuse.
The school understands the situation these kids face in their daily lives. Instead of sending misbehaving students to the principal’s office or detention room, they are encouraged to go to the Mindful Moment Room where they practice guided Yoga, breathing, meditation and have an open dialogue with teachers about why they misbehaved.
This practice equips students with lifelong tools. Practicing Yoga and meditation clears the mind. It helps develop compassion, patience to overcome frustrations and a better mindset to effectively solve misunderstandings. Kids become aware of their emotions rather than being reactive to them.
Patience is cultivated. Kids are often physically active and interacting with each other. But in practicing breathing exercises and being in the moment, they develop the ability to reassess and focus within themselves rather than the circumstances on the outside world. It increases attention span and relaxes their flight or fight reflex. Students who enter the Mindful Moment Room exit calmer, helping them focus better during classes. The school practices Yoga twice throughout the day.
This practice also recreates community. The shift on the students’ behavior is not limited within the school grounds. They also help build gardens, visit farms nearby and clean local parks. The students can also teach meditation at home and around the neighborhood, spreading mindfulness, giving the gift of meditation to others to help them cope with their situation.
Detention and suspension do not help students who are already facing great setbacks in their lives. It can serve only to trigger their emotions causing them to rebel more. So instead of chaining their feet to an alienating detention room, or kick them out of the school sending them back to their unfortunate situations, why not share an effective way of how they can cope with their troubles and counteract negative emotions?