Remember being sent to detention? Perhaps you felt humiliated, thought it was unfair or laughed it off. But did you ever really think about what you did?
A growing number of schools are flipping the script on traditional detention and sending kids to meditate instead. The practice is famously carried out at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore where misbehaving children are taught breathing and centering exercises by faculty.
Rather than writing out what they did wrong 100 times as in the old days, students spend time letting go of their frustration surrounded by purple plush pillows, lamps and decorations before talking things out.
And mindfulness isn’t just used as an alternative form of punishment at Robert W. Coleman. Students there start their day with a “mindful moment” – a 15-minute blend of yoga and meditation, CBS News reports.
Principal Carillian Thompson boasted in the 2016 report that mindfulness has made a “huge difference” and “they’ve had zero suspensions.”
There are numbers to back up Thompson’s praise of her school’s mindfulness program. A 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested that mindfulness meditation “can help ease psychological stressors such as anxiety, depression and pain,” CNN reports.
Another study, this one performed at Harvard, found meditation improves connections to the brain for those who suffer from chronic stress. As for the impact of mindfulness on students, a 2013 study cited in a Berkley report found meditation and yoga helped reduce hyperactive behavior, ADHD symptoms, depression, and stress.
Despite pushback from Christian groups saying schools are “indoctrinating” students with “Buddhist-based mindfulness,” meditation has spread beyond the U.S. to the United Kingdom where the government recently carried out mindfulness testing at 370 schools in honor of Children’s Mental Health Week.
There, students engaged in a series of trials to test how different mindfulness exercises and approaches can help support young people’s mental health.
“I want to see all children and young people have the opportunity to flourish – and protecting their mental health is vital to this,” said British Health Secretary Matt Hancock in a statement.
“I’m incredibly excited by this initiative, which will help young people better understand their mental health and identify when they need to ask for help sooner.”
Imran Hussain, the director of policy and campaigns for Action for Children, a U.K. children’s advocacy charity, applauded her government’s efforts.
“Every day our frontline services see children and teenagers struggling to get to grips with how they fit into the increasingly complex modern world – contending with things like intense pressure at school, bullying or problems at home, all while being bombarded by social media,” she said in the government statement.
“Crucially, services like these can lessen the anxiety, pain and anguish that some teens go through, but also reduce their need for intensive support further down the line.”
The future poses seemingly insurmountable problems, but if future generations can learn to handle their issues with calmness, peace of mind and mindfulness, the world will be in good hands.