Meditation Helps Reduce School Violence in Some of Roughest Neighborhoods

photo-for-blogpost-5_bridge-with-graffiti

Meditation isn’t just for hippies and Eastern yogis anymore. Now in a search for alternative ways to handle behavioral problems in schools, certain districts in the United States (as abroad) have turned to the cerebral to bring about tranquility in what could be potentially volatile situations.

James Gaines of Upworthy.com recently wrote an article entitled, “This School Replaced Detention with Meditation. The Results are Stunning” (click here to read the original post) in which he wrote about how Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland. This school, in conjunction with the Holistic Life Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to mindfulness and other self-healing methods to nurture community well-being, utilizes an alternative approach to disruptive and potentially violent issues. Its during- and after-school programs have produced tremendous results. For example, according to the article, the School’s restful Mindful Moment Room offers students an opportunity to get hushed and re-focused following a negative interaction for which normally the child would be sent to the principal’s office or would receive detention. Also fueling the School’s success is its after-school program called Holistic, Me. The kids, ranging in age from four to ten, are taught mindfulness exercises, yoga, and participate in community-improvement activities such as building gardens and cleaning up parks. Kirk Philips, Holistic, Me coordinator for the School boasts no student suspensions from the 2015 school year up to the time the article was written.

West of the Mississippi, Visitacion Valley School in San Francisco, California is located in one of the City’s poorest neighborhoods where guns are a part of everyday life. Violence from the streets contaminated the school resulting in physical altercations between these middle school kids three to five times per week. As reported by this NBC News story (view the video and read the original story here), the students take 15 minutes, two times per day (called “Quiet Time”) to reflect and get grounded. The School’s website states that the kids are given the choice between meditating, putting their heads down, or just sitting quietly.  Since 2007, this program to “…improve health, reduce violence, increase focus, better academic performance, and strengthen self-concept’ is creating a buzz in the education community. Barry O’Driscoll, the School’s athletic director was not exactly convinced that meditation held the answer to the violence when the San Francisco Public School District partnered with the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education. He’s now a believer – suspensions dropped by a whopping 79% over a four-year period. Other noticeable changes in the students include better attendance and academic performance. Three other San Francisco area schools participate as well and have seen similar results. According to the School’s website, there are over 10 more Bay Area schools on a waiting list.

The left and right coasts aren’t the only geographic regions of the U.S. jumping on board this significant scientific find of mindfulness. Youth Guidance, a Chicago-based community outreach organization, created Becoming A Man (“BAM”).  The purpose of the program is to aid students in delaying abrupt decisions so that they have the tools make more rational ones. This was seen as a more effective alternative to just telling kids not to fight.

U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research did a study to analyze the effectiveness of Chicago’s BAM after-school program. The conclusion? The 1,473 teens in the BAM focus group were 44% less likely to commit a violent act compared to the control group (not enrolled in the program).  Even a year after the study had concluded, these teens showed higher academic performance and attendance rates.

According to the article, “Teaching Meditation to Kids in Chicago Swiftly Reduced Crime and Dropout rates” (click here to read the original post), Gabriel Fisher explains how BAM uses both breathing and meditation exercises to bring about “Positive Anger Expression”. In addition to reducing aggression, it’s been well-documented that meditation has a plethora of benefits to children such as better stress reduction and management, a calmer sense of being, and improved focus. This can be particularly beneficial to children who have withstood trauma in their young lives. Meditation gives them some of the tools to work through grief and anger which is most likely being acted out in school. This acting out may include violence, as well as the attendance and academic problems which the community is trying to combat.

While programs like these may be a part of the solution, the child’s family has the ultimate responsibility for working through these problems. However, it’s good to know that programs like this exist to lend support to the family and to be the family to those who lack one.

Has your community or one you know of first-hand enacted an alternative program that includes meditation? What have been the results? What’s been the community’s reaction? Do they notice a difference in those who participate?

 

10 Meditation Quotes You Need to Memorize Today

A photo by Julia Caesar. unsplash.com/photos/DpoMKEARZe4

Let’s face it. We’re our own worst enemy. Where does that tussle start? In the mind. If there’s anything we’ve learned over thousands of years is that everyone from the early people of Mesopotamia to the Roman Empire suffered with the same self-chatter issues we in the 21st century try to reign in today. I dig these quotes because they read like sage advice for the ages. Strewn together, I can imagine them being spoken by a wise elder as (s)he sits next to me on the banks of a sparkling lake…

1. “I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

2. “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” – Dalai Lama

3. “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded.” – Buddha

4. “The mind is responsible for the feelings of pleasure and pain. Control of the mind is the highest Yoga.” – Swami Sivananda

5. “Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.” – Amit Ray

6. “Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.” – Diana Robinson

7. “Meditation is listening to the Divine within.” ― Edgar Cayce

8. “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” ― Deepak Chopra

9. “The past has no power over the present moment.” ― Eckhart Tolle

10. “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.”― Mahatma Gandhi

What are some of your favorite meditation and spirituality quotes?

Why You Need At Least One Private Meditation Session

LUV PrivacyIntegrating meditation into your health regimen has a slew of benefits.

• Increases sense of calm
• Zaps cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels
• Steadies blood pressure
• Restful Sleep
• Lessens risk of heart attack and stroke
• Reigns in anxiety and depression
• Suped-up brain function and memory

When you’re a beginner, starting to practice it in a large group can be intimidating. Plus, videos and podcasts can’t provide you motivation or feedback. What’s the solution? A private meditation session.

You can have a one-on-one discussion prior to the session without worrying about giving others in the session a turn to talk. This is a particular plus if you want to discuss mental and physical health issues that you wouldn’t want to talk about in front of a group.

Another benefit – when the instructor is just focused on you, he/she can focus on solutions to your meditation woes.

Having an instructor helps keep your mind on track

Your private instructor can design a meditation with your specific intentions in mind. Do you want to…
• Improve your relationship with your bathroom scale
• Learn to relax when you’re under pressure at work
• Bounce back mentally after your divorce?
There’s an OM for that!

And there’s no pressing pause to throw a load of laundry in the washing machine.

Joe and Jane Multi-tasker, I’m looking at you…

Once the session is over, you can share the details of your experience. Did you dig it…don’t feel any different…fall asleep…think about what you want for lunch

Your instructor can give you personalized exercises to perform daily “off the mat” to help you overcome whatever hiccups you’re encountering when you meditate.

As meditation gets easier for you, your private instructor will be there to cheer you on and keep you motivated

As you start to feel like a meditation rock star, you may decide you’re ready to join a live group meditation session.

That’s o.k. Meditation is a journey, not a destination. Your style, intentions, where and how you do it will morph over your lifetime. As long as you’re growing in your practice, play with and develop a style that’s going to keep you interested for years to come.

Have you tried a one-on-one session? What was your experience? Share your comments below.

The Free Health Boost You May Have Never Heard Of

earthingIt was a beautiful spring afternoon in downtown Indianapolis. I strolled into a courtyard which contained a large, yet simple, black concrete fountain. It was surrounded by several brick walkways leading through and around the grassy park-like commons. The inviting square seemed like the perfect place to spend some time reading my book and absorbing a little nature. Sitting down on a section of the walkway near the cascading wellspring, I slid my black flats off my feet. I placed them in the cool carpeted grass. The sensation brought a smile to my face. As I opened my book, I began to feel a subtle tingling rising from my feet, slowly flowing through my body like a river. I felt more refreshed and more renewed. I had the energy of a couple of kindergarteners on a playground. Thirty minutes later, I was ready to take on my afternoon task list. Where’d this rejuvenation come from? The Earth, of course, and it’s an energy that can change your life.

Better than anything you can get in a can, earthing is gaining more and more notoriety from the scientific community. My bioelectrical bare foot came in contact with the Earth, which is exudes natural energy.  Terra firma provided me with a “jump start” like a couple of jumper cables to a car battery – only not as intense. In addition to an energy boost, there are numerous physiological benefits:

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health
  • Curbs Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
  • More Sound Sleep
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Slows the Aging Process

So the next time you’re feeling stressed out at work, take a barefoot walk in the grass at lunchtime and be one with the earth.

Do you make earthing a daily part of your health routine? If so, how has it improved your health?

 

Don’t Get Hung Up on the Jargon – Just Meditate

37959954 - closeup portrait young man praying hands clasped hoping for best asking for forgiveness or miracle isolated gray wall background. human emotion facial expression feeling

When I first started meditating, I thought,”O.k., now I suppose I’m going to have to learn what’s like a whole new language to me”. Sigh. Just like any profession, sport, or art there are terms associated with what you’re “performing”. While I feel it’s good to learn it, you don’t have to do it all at once. Most importantly, don’t let it stop you from actually enjoying what you do. So you don’t know karma from dharma. No worries. Here are a few simple terms to make you feel better:

  • Bohdi – Enligtenment (as in not Patrick Swayze’s character in the original Point Break. Sorry, I couldn’t resist)
  • Pana – Wisdom
  • Chakra – Energy Center
  • Asana – Posture and Place One takes during meditation
  • Zafu – Cushion used for siting meditations

One way to get started, is to read my free e-book, Downward Facing OM. It’s only 30 pages long but packed with information. Read one page a day either before or after you meditate and in one month you’ll be well on your way to being not only being more relaxed, but will be more knowledgeable about your new endeavor. What new profession, activity, or hobby did you try for the first time that made you feel overwhelmed? Did the feeling of overwhelm steal your enjoyment? Did you ever get to the point where you finally felt seasoned or did you not revisit it again?

3 Crucial Things A Beginning Meditator Must Know

candles-1323090_1920

You want to learn to meditate. You’ve read about the scads of health benefits and, your crush does it so that’s a cool conversation starter. If you can’t imagine yourself sitting still with your eyes closed for even 30 seconds, this post is for you. I was in your shoes years ago and this is what I wish someone had told me.

  1. Your Mind Will Wander So Just Accept It: There are dozens of forms of meditation. Making your mind completely blank for hours on end is reserved for the ranks of the Buddhist monk so don’t let that stop you. As you meditate and are concentrating on your intention, you may get a fleeting thought (your to-do list, how that guy cut you off in traffic…). Freeze the intruding visual thought as if you’re staring at it on a computer screen. Imagine yourself clicking “minimize” with your mouse, making the image disappear, and then go back to your intention.
  1. You Don’t Have To Subscribe to Eastern Religion: Whether you’re Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, or just spiritual, the benefits of meditation go beyond religion. Peace of mind and a deeper relationship with your God or the Universe attract many to the practice, but wait there’s more… an increase in overall health. Taking 10 or more minutes a day to meditate can bring you focus, decreased anxiety and stress; and greater listening skills and empathy. Bet you could have used that when that guy cut you off in traffic, right?
  1. You CAN Do This: Just like any new skill, meditation takes practice. I’m an impatient person (I call it my Verruca Salt Syndrome – “I want it now!”) and was amazed at how quickly meditation became a habit. I craved it daily. The fact that you’re reading this shows you’re ready to take Step 2 (we’ll call reading this Step 1) – sign up for an online or local live class. I recommend this to start out if you need an accountability method. Live meditation classes like LUVYourSpirit will be conducting (mobile, studio, and soon online) are gaining in popularity in cities across the Country. Check your local city website. Better yet, go ask your crush. What prompted you to decide to start meditating?