Recently I came across an article on the edutopia website regarding meditation and student engagement. Having an interest in both subjects I decided to read on.
It seems that a school that had a high incidence of violence and truancy has been able to turn their school culture around through time set aside at the beginning and end of each day, called Quiet Time, where students “permitted to read, sit with their own thoughts, or close their eyes and meditate — in which case most of them use a specific technique called Transcendental Meditation* that facilitates a state of deep relaxation. Although the meditation is optional, nearly all students have chosen, with their parents’ permission, to receive meditation training. Based on classroom reports, about 90 percent of students choose to meditate during QT.”
This article got me thinking about our ability and our students’ ability to focus in an always on, 24/7 world. I have blogged before about the need to “get off the grid” so to speak, and it is a subject that I have been thinking more about lately. With so much “out there” to keep our attention, how much time do we spend on our developing our attention to “in here”?
Now, don’t think I am suggesting that we all sit around navel gazing all the time, on the contrary what I am suggesting is that by taking time to develop our ability to focus on the internal, it will help us to make more sense of the external. In other words, meditation, far from taking us away from the world, will help us to better interact WITH the world.
How do I know? Apart from the testimony of far more experienced meditators than myself and several scientific studies into the physical, emotional and psychological benefits of meditation, my own stuttering attempts at meditation have yielded more focused mental states and an increased ability to filter out distractions, if only for small periods of time.
Even if you have never sat down on a cushion to do some breath meditation, or only know “Om” as a scientific term or the beginning of OMG!, I think anyone can benefit from a more focused, more aware state of mind. The truth is there is so much to distract us, so many things to multi-task, that now, more than ever before, we need an antidote to distraction that will help us to better function in our everyday lives. If you have ever “lost yourself” playing a computer game or listening to a piece of music, then you have experience in the intensity that comes from greater focus. Through concentration developed through meditation, we can enhance our capacity to engage effectively with our busy lives.
If you want to give it a try it is as simple as watching your breath. There are many wonderful breath watching/counting techniques out there, pick one and get started. Get to know your mind. Learn to be here now.