I am a certified teacher with over 15 years experience. I created the Classroom OM Guided Meditation program for students to be used as part of a daily mindful practice.
I study and practice meditation, and I have experienced the benefits of calming the mind while increasing self-awareness. I recognized a need to implement guided meditation in my own teaching practice -- observing the positive results meditation had with my own students. That experience inspired me to develop a quick and easy program for teachers and parents to use in your classroom or at home.
Meditation is not a religion -- it is a practice that teaches students how to calm their minds for a few minutes everyday. In doing so, students become self-aware, more focused, calmer, less reactive and more empathetic. I've seen it firsthand in my own daily practice with my fifth graders. I will never forget the first time I implemented it. It was during holiday time, my students were restless, chatty and were having a difficult time concentrating. I decided out of the blue to try meditating with them. I figured I had nothing to lose. So I announced "okay everybody sit down we are going to meditate!" Looking back the initial response was hysterical. I heard lots of comments - "what's that?" "Huh?" "Can I take my shoes off?" So after we got through the particulars including belly breathing (the proper breathing technique for meditating) I put on some relaxing music and guided them through the process. I had anticipated giggles, eyes opening and possible squirming in their spots. As I continued to speak softly guiding them through the process I noticed something remarkable. They were calm, they were focused and they were enjoying it! A few minutes later we were done, I asked them to start their writing activity. Every single student returned to their tables and started writing in their journals without one complaint.
Now, I meditate daily and I love the benefits of feeling grounded and calm when those nasty stressors strike -- but could they have such positive results so quickly? The next day my students asked me if we could meditate again. My response was immediate, "Absolutely, let's do it!" They looked forwarded to meditating, and we continued to do so as part of our daily practice. I observed incredible results, many were more focused, others seemed happier. There was one student in particular, who stood out. This student was in crisis with episodes of depression and anger and missed his Dad who was incarcerated out of state. After about two weeks of meditation he came up to me and said that he felt like the anger he was feeling, was less. That moment stayed with me. It lingered into my consciousness. That something as simple as the practice of meditation could help him feel less angry, help him cope and offer him a personal safety zone.
Afterwards, I thought to myself, how come we aren't doing more of this with our students? We use detention, and we withhold recess privileges to teach them right from wrong. In my school district iPads have been used as a behavior modification tool. iPads! How are any of these techniques helping students? Punishing them or occupying their time with a device doesn't get to the heart of the matter. We need to be supporting them and giving them personal awareness tools to help them understand that they are empowered to make better choices and that no one is going to judge them or punish them for what they are feeling. It also teaches them the responsibility of being accountable for their choices in a respectful and relatable way. That is when I had my "aha" moment and knew that I had to share meditation not only with my students, but make it available for teachers to use with their students everywhere. I thought if my practice could reach and help one student like mine feel less anger; imagine the possibilities of helping other students the same way.
There are so many mediations programs available for adults to help us cope with day-to-day stressors. There are some programs for children out there, but Classroom OM is different because I designed it to be school based. It is created by a teacher for teachers, and all it takes is just a few minutes out of the school day. The program is easy for teachers to implement. The meditations have been created for the everyday climate and culture of the school environment, using the language that teachers speak and students understand. It is a moment for children to create their own personal safety zones. The benefits evidenced by the research are amazing. Improved coping strategies, self-regulation of emotions, and noticeable reduction in hyperactivity, improved memory, increased focus and ability to control attention.