Meditation in Schools

children meditating

Meditation has been shown to be effective for children in schools.

People often see meditation as esoteric or bound up with spiritual connection. For me it is a journey of self-reflection, raising personal awareness and recognising our connection to the world and others and how we affect it. In other words, it is about raising emotional intelligence and fostering resilience.

From my work with young people in schools and privately over the last years I can recognise certain common factors. In general, young people do not know how to manage themselves. From understanding how to prepare themselves to sleep , what it is like to feel calm and relaxed in the body, how to discern how to behave  rather than just react, and often do not know what it is  like to feel safe, listened to and supported.  I feel that as parents and teachers we are often unable to connect with the above ourselves due to our set of circumstances and therefore we struggle to pass this down to our youngsters. To break this ever increasing cycle, we need to intervene and do something different.

Anxiety, aggression and depression are on the up and our children need help before they leave school otherwise the statistic of one in four adults who have mental health issues will rise even higher, and I feel, very quickly. Learning how to feel at ease and happy,  having a space  to explore self-reflection, a chance to  gather tools to manage themselves and experience feeling safe , happy and grounded are vital for the future mental health of our population. Sessions which offer simple coping strategies and a space to explore new ways of behaving can help young people immensely not only for them to reach their full academic potential but later in life too as they become adults.

From my experience, simple meditation and mindfulness techniques coupled with a counselling professional who can offer a congruent, honest and empathetic space with firm and fair boundaries can lead to a very positive change in a matter of a few sessions.

We have to tackle the issue of behavioural problems, anxiety and depression in young people in a new way, an experiential way. To foster change, they need to experience what it is like to feel relaxed, safe, happy, and so much more. Once they begin to encounter this, their brain creates neuropathways, their body remembers and behaviours start to shift. When they enjoy meditation sessions and come out of the class and into mainstream classes and receive positive feedback such as finding themselves in less trouble and therefore having a smoother day, they then want more of it……and so change happens.

All the talking in the world will not make a difference. Young people need to experience, feel and make the choice from inside that they want to change because it is better for them and they recognise that.

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About the Author

Nikki Catto
I have been a practicing therapist for twelve years specialising with women’s issues and young people. I believe everyone is unique and I tailor therapy to my clients individual needs using a range of techniques and skills.
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