Introduction The life of the typical child consists of them going to school, taking exams, worrying about grades and their social life.
Since they are spending all this time in school, the teachers, as well as other school professionals, play a “crucial role in helping students” in time of need (Winser). In light of research showing that mindfulness/meditation practices are beneficial to adults by “promoting health, alleviating pain, and reducing depression and anxiety” (Greenberg), various studies went underway to see if children can benefit through these practices as well. It is theorized that the implementation of this new form of intervening into the children’s lives would benefit by helping the children with behavioral issues, mental illness, and more, in and outside of the classroom. Perspective 1 Due to the large amount of energy that children have, it’s hard to keep them from bouncing off of the walls. In addition to their energy, children are very special in the sense that they understand and use abstract concepts, like imagination and concentration, as a tool for learning (Viarengo). In 2011, an elementary school in Richmond, CA placed a mindfulness based curriculum from Mindful Schools, an organization seeking to integrate mindfulness into classrooms nationwide, at no cost, in order to determine if mindful based curricula was the best way to intervene with their students (Black). The study had two groups, the MS and the MS+, where students were placed randomly and spent 15 minutes per mindfulness session they participated in 3-4 times weekly. At the end of the 12 week period, which was the end of the study, based on the teacher reported outcomes, it was concluded that both groups “significantly improved over time” in their skills of paying attention, self control, participation and more (Black).
This isn’t the only study that concludes that school-based mindfulness/meditation programs bring with them benefits of “enhanced ability to pay attention, improved concentration, and decreased anxiety” (Winser 2010). If schools didn’t play the crucial role in their students lives that they are meant to play and were just teaching students for the purpose of exams for progression, then they aren’t developing the “whole child” (Viarengo). Therefore, schools should be a place where the students can learn the fundamentals of education, while learning more about their physical and spiritual level in order to set them up for better future. Perspective 2 Likewise, Mindfulness/meditation practices are beneficial to children in clinical environments as well. For instance several studies show that the use of meditation with children that are diagnosed with ADHD resulted in improvements in attention, anxiety, and internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems (Greenberg). In another study, children in a post civil war and tsunami Sri Lanka are examined through two different treatment groups in order to determine if exposure therapy and meditation therapy are effective in treating PTSD. it is then concluded that the study resulted in the recovery rate of “treatment groups exceeded the expected rates of natural recovery” (Catani).
However, although there have been plenty of people who have benefitted from these practices, due to the limited research that there is, it cannot be concluded that mindfulness/meditation is the best alternative to prescription drugs since there is debate about how good mindfulness/meditation really is.Perspective 3 It’s fairly easy to go on and on about the benefits that have been found through research on the topic of mindfulness/meditation, but not as easy to discuss the possible negative effects it might have. For instance, meditation might be a good way to treat mental illnesses like depression, but, it isn’t a cure.
As one is meditating, they are interacting with themselves on a deeper level and that could result in that person having to face these emotions that have been making them depressed, which could drive a person away from continuing the meditation practice (Ivtzan 2016). Another problem that can arise is people being unhappy since they didn’t get what they expected from the meditation. Meditation is meant to be this journey that is taken to give a person a deeper understanding of themselves and healing and nourishing, not an activity done to get feelings of “flying as a free spirit” or seeing a white light (Ivtzan 2016). Yet, everyone will always have their own experiences and opinions on mindfulness/meditation practices. To that same extent, the positives outweigh the negatives to the extent that it wouldn’t hurt to expose these practices to children early on and let them decide for themselves whether or not they want to continue.
Limitations When considering the implementation of a mindfulness/meditation based curricula into your curriculum, the main limitation that appears is that the research for the effects mindfulness/meditation has on children still needs further research. Almost all of my sources, if not all, come to the conclusion that these practices are beneficial but more research needs to be done. Another limitation would be that since some mindfulness/meditation practices involve mantras and could be perceived as religious in nature which can affect its implementation into schools (Greenberg 2012).
Lastly, a limitation was that finding a source discussing the negatives about mindfulness/meditation using academic search engines was insufficient.Conclusion Although the research isn’t that vast, it is recommended to attempt to implement mindfulness/meditation into the lives of children because it would help the progression of the kids as a whole. All it would take to implement these practices is to start off with 2-5 minutes a day of mindfulness/meditation and see where it would go from there.
In order to address the limitations, time and patience will be needed as the research progresses, and, finding another way to implement these practices without incorporating mantras. Just like the elementary school from Richmond, implementing mindfulness/meditations into a curriculum is cost free. Things can also get started as early as infancy, with the parents of the child displaying acts of mindfulness/meditation. The children are the future.