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How Does Meditation Improve Classroom Performance?
There are many different forms of meditation, but the ultimate goal is always the same: to quiet the mind, releasing it of all thoughts and distractions, ultimately entering a state of “no mind” in which one is living in pure enlightenment or awareness. Yes, it sounds daunting, but there are many other, more attainable benefits of meditation along the path to enlightenment. Research has shown that increased concentration, discipline, intelligence, perceptivity, confidence, creativity, calmness and non-reactivity are just some of the paybacks of a consistent meditation practice. Meditation has become so popular that schools across the United States have implemented meditation periods in an effort to improve classroom performance.
Quiet time periods
Quiet time periods are nothing new. Preschools know to schedule in naptime for the toddlers, but as we grow older, silent time is replaced with more activity and interaction. Fortunately, schools across the nation are welcoming back silence, scheduling in two 10-15 minute periods that allow students to sit or read quietly. Some schools are going so far as to introduce meditation to children and teachers, perhaps a more proactive way to fill quiet time.
Transcendental Meditation in the classroom
In 2005, the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace helped establish the US Committee for Stress-Free Schools. The goal of the committee is to introduce the Transcendental Meditation technique to schools across the nation and to financially back research to study the effects of Transcendental Meditation on academic and classroom performance. According to the official Transcendental Meditation Program website, over 200,000 students worldwide are engaging in the Transcendental Meditation program as part of their quiet time periods.
Improved social behavior and reduced absenteeism
The majority of research on meditation specifically studies the Transcendental Mediation program introduced to the West by the Hindu guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Numerous studies have indicated that meditation has had a positive impact on classroom and social behavior among adolescents. A 2003 study conducted by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia found that African American students who participated in the Transcendental Meditation program during school had lower rates of absenteeism, rule infractions and suspension rates than African American adolescents assigned to a health education control group.
Improved academic performance and reduced emotional problems
Other research points to an improvement in academic performance and a reduction in anxiety. Results of an American University study that followed 250 university students for two years indicate that Transcendental Meditation improved overall brain functioning and psychological development. Researchers at the University of Connecticut studied 106 at-risk adolescents for four months. Participants were divided into a control group and a Transcendental Meditation group. Results show that those enrolled in the meditation program displayed decreased degrees of anxiety, hyperactivity and emotional disturbances than those in the control group.
Researchers do not yet know the exact hows and whys of meditation, but taking time to breathe and still the mind amid the hectic and often stressful environment of the classroom has helped improved the performance of both children and adults.