At the end of each term I ask students to fill out a brief survey about their classroom experience.
One of the questions I ask is about meditation. Though the classes I teach are mainly English or HUmantities classes, I teach all of them mindfulness meditation, which has the breath as the primary object of focus. We start every class with about 10 minutes of sitting meditation. The students are asked to incorporate meditation into their daily routine for the eight weeks of the course.
Here is the meditation question and their answers:
Now you’ve had eight weeks of mindfulness practice. What place do you feel mindfulness meditation has in education? How has it impacted you at school, work or home life?
- I believe mindfulness practice plays a great role in education. Especially because students are so consumed with our everyday lives, stressed with school, pressures of meeting deadlines etc.; meditation helps ease the tension and relieve our minds of everything that’s going on and focus on the present moment.
I think that meditation be introduced in classrooms because it does a number of things like reduce stress, reinforce focus, improve students concentration ability, and create a quiet time in the classroom. It has impacted my life so much because I have been able to get a lot of work done and stay focused more.
- I have actually not tried to do meditation. I do it whenever I have a couple minutes. I did take one practice from mindfulness, which was driving in silent mode when heading to work. I really do not enjoy my job, so on my way to work I do not turn on the radio, and I just drive. It has really brought down my stress level as I head to work. I do not feel so anxious anymore as soon as I get to my job. It has really help a lot, because I am able to work better and actually feel more relieve as soon as I arrive. Now that I have tried this, I try to do one thing at a time and it is really working out great.
I think that mindfulness practice is good in the classroom; it relaxes the student before class. It’s a good time to reflect and take a minute to just breathe. I think a lot of us feel very rushed in the morning, like we are racing with time. We get angry because the bus is late or we didn’t get coffee before work. It’s nice to just take some time and take a breather.
- I believe the mindfulness helped me focus in on the task at hand instead of millions of other things going on life.
- It gets your mind clear and ready to learn. At home and work it allows my day to flow in way it didn’t before the mindfulness practices.
I think mindfulness meditation relaxes us and helps us prioritize our lives. I usually like to mediate alone outside. It helps me not to fret over everything that goes wrong.
I feel much calmer and more relaxed when writing
So, while I will need some time to process what they’ve said, it seems at least quite obvious that having mindfulness as part of classroom activity is something the students nearly universally value based on what’s important to them.
What I see, is that they learn better, retain more, are more engaged in classroom activities and each other. The increase in engagement leads to better team work and seems to increase their out of class social engagement as well. This seems important particularly in an academic setting which moves at a very fast pace. We operate on 8-week terms with significant on-line components.