Meditation has a somewhat negative reputation in our culture. It’s often depicted as a fluffy form of self-care. A treat for people with no real problems and too much free time on their hands. But regular meditation actually provides a lot of surprising health benefits. These include reduced stress, improved concentration, as well as increases in creativity and emotional well-being. Given how tough the last few years have been, it’s no surprise that more people are exploring meditation to improve their mental health.

For teachers, meditation could be a useful tool for helping those students who feel overwhelmed by the challenges of 2021. COVID is unfortunately still a part of our daily lives, and fluctuating school environments mean that students aren’t always getting the structure they need. By introducing some form of meditation to our lessons, we can give students the opportunity to release their anxiety and re-center their thoughts. But how do we do this in a constructive way that fits naturally into our curriculum? Here are a few strategies to try out in your classroom.

Take a Breath
  • Reflection Journals: Reflection journals are probably the easiest way to introduce a meditative element to your class. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day and have students write in personal journals. Tell them to record any questions or thoughts they might have about the day’s lesson, but also encourage them to write down any feelings or frustrations they may be experiencing. Why do they feel this way? What can they do to embrace a more positive outlook? Not only will this improve their skills in writing, but it will also foster their social-emotional growth.
  • Gym Class Yoga: If possible, speak with your students’ coach or gym teacher and see if they’ll set aside one class for a yoga activity. This exercise combines stretching with balance and poise, so students will still get a good workout despite not running around. More importantly, this activity centers around deep breathing, which is a key component to reducing anxiety and sorting one’s thoughts. By taking this class, students can get healthy exercise while also returning to their studies with a clear mind.
  • The Human Heart: Valentine’s Day is coming up, which means it’s the perfect time to teach your students about the human heart. After showing students how the heart pumps blood to our bodies, reveal that there are ways we can reduce our heartrate. Have students pair up and take their partner’s pulse. Then have one partner meditate for 5-10 minutes. What changes do they see in the pulse? Why do they think that is?
  • Take a Brain Break: Sometimes, the mind just needs a break. Give students a 5–10-minute break where they’re allowed to clear their heads and come back to the work with new eyes. Not only will this meditation break refresh your students and help them tackle tricky problems, but it can also help fidgety kids control their energy and refocus their attention on the day’s lesson.  
Making the Moments

Everyone is navigating a difficult school year, and we should use every tool at our disposal if we’re to help our students learn and grow. We need to give students the space to check in with their emotions and collect themselves. I just so happens that a few moments of mindfulness can do wonders for our classrooms. So, give your students (and yourselves) permission to take a moment and just breath. You may be surprised by the results.

*Image courtesy of LadydragonflyCC via Wikimedia Commons.

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