Posts Tagged ‘meditation in the classroom’

The Atlantic’s Jennie Rothenberg Gritz visited schools where @TMmeditation was being used for stress-reduction and well-being

December 11, 2015

Jennie Rothenberg grew up in Fairfield, Iowa, went to Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, and attended UCBerkeley on a scholarship to study Journalism. She became a professional writer, a wife and a mother. Jennie is a former senior editor at The Atlantic, is now a senior editor at Smithsonian magazine.

The last piece Jennie wrote for The Atlantic, published November 10, 2015, was about the Quiet Time program, promoted by the David Lynch Foundation, and its success sponsoring the Transcendental Meditation technique in schools across the country.

The magazine introduces the article: After growing up with Transcendental Meditation as a spiritual practice, the author visits public schools where it’s being used as a simple tool for stress-reduction and well-being.

In 1974, the year before I was born, my parents had a small wedding in my aunt’s living room and then spent their honeymoon becoming teachers of Transcendental Meditation. Those were the days when just about everyone seemed to be doing it. “Plainly,” wrote the author Adam Smith in The Atlantic’s October 1975 cover story on meditation, “TM was the greatest thing since peach ice cream.” Meditation was enough of a cultural phenomenon that Woody Allen could use it as a punch line. The L.A. party scene in Annie Hall ends with Jeff Goldblum’s character placing a businesslike call to his instructor: “Yeah, I forgot my mantra.”

Considering how many 20-somethings learned to meditate in the 1970s, one might have predicted an explosion of meditating schools in the 1980s. Instead, Americans mostly forgot about the trend as they settled into the Reagan era. My parents were exceptions: They enrolled me in a small private school where the day began and ended with TM. It was an idyllic childhood in many ways, but my classmates and I always knew we lived in a bubble. One summer, at a resort in the Catskills, I listened as my aunt tried to explain my upbringing to a couple of her friends.

“Sure, I remember TM,” one woman replied. “I guess some people got caught up in meditation, just like some people got caught up in drugs.”

“And the rest of us,” her husband finished, “grew up and moved on with our lives.”

So I was fascinated when meditation recently started becoming mainstream again. Coworkers told me about mindfulness apps they were trying and friends mentioned yoga retreats they were planning to attend. The general idea seemed to be that meditation was not so much a technique for spiritual enlightenment as a common-sense lifestyle habit, like getting enough exercise or eating green vegetables. ….

Jennie visited several schools in poor, stressed inner-city locations where children from different ethnic backgrounds and broken homes came to school already traumatized. She wondered how administrators, teachers and students would react to such a program, and how it could be implemented.

It’s hard to change the circumstances that create this kind of stress, though plenty of people are trying. But if you teach kids to meditate in the meantime, the thinking goes, you can help them reduce the stress itself. That reasoning always made sense to me, as someone who has been practicing TM since childhood and seen the research on adults, especially for stress-related problems like heart disease. Struggling schools need lots of things: better food, stronger math programs, and higher-quality teachers, to name just a few. One of those needs seems to be a way to reduce stress so kids can absorb information and go into the world as well-balanced, successful people.

Still, I had a hard time envisioning how meditation programs actually worked when they were dropped suddenly into public schools. Who were the principals who brought them in—did they have hidden mystical streaks, or were their motivations purely practical? Were the teachers enthusiastic or did they see meditation as yet another gimmick imposed on them from the outside? And how did the students really feel about it? Did they roll their eyes when the meditation bell rang or did they actually enjoy it? What was it like to grow up with just meditation—and no spiritual trappings surrounding it?

The article continues with visits to some of the schools where the program was introduced. Jennie interviews principals, teachers, and the students to get their personal reactions to this meditation program and its effects on them.

Read the rest of this objective revealing report: Mantras Before Math Class by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz. This is journalism at its best!

PDF: Quiet Time Brings Transcendental Meditation to Public Schools.

You can follow Jennie Gritz on Twitter.

A year later, Jennie moved to The Smithsonian and published this excellent article: Director David Lynch Wants Schools to Teach Transcendental Meditation to Reduce Stress. The acclaimed filmmaker has become the champion of the practice that’s now been adopted by thousands of kids.

Be You: Transcendental Meditation helps students succeed in this UK school program

July 25, 2015

I enjoyed watching Be You, an impressive little film documenting the life-transforming power of Transcendental Meditation in one of the schools of the APC, a UK educational alternative for socially-challenged students in need of individual support.

The West Sussex Alternative Provision College is one of four hundred pupil referral units in the United Kingdom, which caters specifically for pupils who are not currently in mainstream education for various reasons. This school offers young people with emotional and behavioral issues a new chance to succeed.

Be You is a start-up, grass-roots, not-for-profit organization founded by Ricky Reemer and Kitty de la Beche. It sets out to transform the lives and prospects of young people who struggle to fulfill their potential within the school system by teaching them valuable life skills and techniques.

The Be You project opened the way for the introduction of Transcendental Meditation to the teachers and pupils in this specialized Unit. With the support of the Be You, the pupils were encouraged to continue their daily practice of TM over a full school year.

A volunteer team climbed Mt Snowdon in order to raise funds for the film project, which was produced by Kitty de la Beche and directed by Nicholai Fischer. Here’s a look at the encouraging results.

First international article on TM in Education: Meditation helps students, by Dana Micucci

August 7, 2012

International Education: Meditation helps students

By Dana Micucci

Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2005

NEW YORK — New research appears to be strengthening the case for teaching Transcendental Meditation in U.S. schools, showing it to be a means to improve the concentration of students and a way to enhance their physical and mental well-being.

Proponents say that students who meditate daily are calmer, less distracted and less stressed and less prone to violent behavior.

A study conducted at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, which will be published in the April issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, found that Transcendental Meditation reduced high blood pressure in African-American teenagers. The study tracked 156 inner-city black adolescents in Augusta, Georgia, with elevated blood pressures. Those who practiced 15 minutes of Transcendental Meditation twice daily steadily lowered their daytime blood pressures over four months compared to non-meditating teens who participated in health education classes and experienced no significant change.

The technique was developed 50 years ago by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and consists of silently repeating a mantra for about 20 minutes a day. It found its way into classrooms 30 years ago after Robert Keith Wallace, a medical researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, published the first study on its positive physiological effects.

Since then, studies at universities like Harvard, Stanford and UCLA have shown that Transcendental Meditation can ease stress and enhance both physical and mental health and behavior.

Bolstered by these studies, groups of educators, parents and physicians across the United States have turned to Transcendental Meditation as a possible antidote to rising anxiety, violence and depression among students. Committees for Stress-Free Schools were established last year in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities. These committees serve as information resources about the potential benefits of meditation for students and teachers.

Transcendental Meditation is a simple mental technique that can have profound physiological effects,” says Gary Kaplan, a neurologist and clinical associate professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine and chairman of the New York Committee for Stress-Free Schools. “It produces a state of restful alertness that provides the body with deep, rejuvenating rest and allows the mind to reach higher levels of creativity, clarity and intelligence.”

However, initial efforts to introduce the teaching of Transcendental Meditation in schools were controversial. Opponents criticized it as a religious practice and in the mid-1970s a group of citizens brought a lawsuit against several New Jersey high schools, forcing them to withdraw their programs. At the time, a New Jersey court ruled that Transcendental Meditation had religious overtones and therefore could not be offered in a public school.

“The challenge lies in educating people that although Transcendental Meditation is rooted in the Indian Vedic spiritual tradition, it is not a religious practice,” says Kaplan.

At the Fletcher-Johnson School, an elementary and junior high school in a rough Washington neighborhood, meditation has been reported to help to improve student performance and reduce fighting. George Rutherford, the principal who introduced Transcendental Meditation 10 years ago, said, “We saw immediate results.”

He added, “There was a lot of violent crime around the school. But after we trained our students in Transcendental Meditation, they were calmer. There was less fighting, and attendance increased. Students scored better on standardized tests. Transcendental Meditation helped to remove a lot of their stress.”

Now, as principal at Ideal Academy (Public Charter School) in Washington, Rutherford is training teachers in Transcendental Meditation to combat teacher burnout.

At the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, an elementary and middle school, students and teachers have been practicing Transcendental Meditation twice daily for the past seven years. Carmen N’Namdi, co-founder and principal of the school, says that “given the enormous stresses of today’s world, children, like adults, need to learn how to rest and relieve tension.”

Recent research spearheaded by Rita Benn, director of education at the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan, found that meditating students at Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse were happier, handled stress better, had higher self-esteem and got along better with their peers than non-meditating students at another Detroit school.

In addition to improving the emotional and social development of children, meditation can also be effective in treating brain disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a study conducted in April 2004 at Chelsea School in Silver Spring, Maryland, a private school for children with learning disabilities.

“We compared students before and after they learned Transcendental Meditation,” said the principal investigator, Sarina Grosswald, president of S J Grosswald & Associates, a consulting firm in medical education in Alexandria, Virginia. “Kids who practiced Transcendental Meditation for 10 minutes twice each day for three months reported being calmer, less distracted, less stressed, and better able to control their anger and frustration.”

This New York Times article was first published earlier that day by the Paris editor of the International Herald Tribune. Click on Meditation helps some students to download a PDF of this groundbreaking article on the front page of the Tribune’s Education section.

Around that time in early 2005, the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace had been established to provide Transcendental Meditation to at-risk students around the world. Today many educational institutions have successfully implemented this Quiet Time program in their schools.

The David Lynch Foundation has since gone on to provide scholarships for TM instruction for other at-risk populations: Native American Indians, the homeless, prisoners, girls and women victims of abuse, and veterans from all wars and their families suffering from post-traumatic stress.

For more information and videos on these programs, visit www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

For veterans, visit www.operationwarriorwellness.org.

For a short overview see these Excerpts From David Lynch Foundation Videos: Changing Lives With Transcendental Meditation.

Search for more DLF and OWW articles and videos posted on this blog.


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