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30.08.2014
A fidgety girl in the front row strained to keep her eyes closed when soft instrumental music began playing through portable speakers.
Star of the school’s athletics team, Heena Tahiliani, was only eager to share the positive effects of morning meditation sessions. I suddenly had more time for everything and a lot more energy to balance my training and studies. Abhinav Sharma, a proponent of meditation through Sahaja Yoga, has been pitching its effectiveness to schools across the UAE for months. After eight years of practicing yoga with his family, 14-year-old Abhay Anand’s daily routine includes meditation sessions per day. Sidharth Lalwani, new to the entire process, commented on the unexpected physical changes 15 minutes of meditation can bring. The science behind this form of meditation suggests that various core points in the body known as ‘chakras’ are activated by focusing on the present and avoiding mental distractions. This style of meditative yoga has been adopted in more than 100 countries around the world, with studies conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, claiming that meditation effectively lowers levels of teen depression, aggression, and stress.
The UAE faction of Sahaja Yoga is made up of working professionals holding down day jobs, who still see merit in setting aside their mornings to guide children through daily affirmations.
Sharma and his team have held one-off meditation sessions at other institutions as well, including local girls’ school, Anisa Al Ansariya School, and sessions for the staff at Rashid Hospital.
Meditation can be an effective form of stress reduction and has the potential to improve quality of life and decrease health care costs. If you have little or no experience with meditation, "Our Online Meditation Course" will get you up and started quickly and easily. An initiative is currently gaining popularity in the education sector to help schoolchildren stay balanced and stress-free. Emily Holland of The Wall Street Journal said mindfulness meditation focuses entirely on the present time. Advocates of the practice are bringing the movement into schools nationwide, believing this form of meditation can sharpen the students' focus, increase school performance, and reduce their stress levels. American actress Goldie Hawn is a big fan of this effort for schoolchildren, according to Education News.
A 2009 study found a decrease in stress levels and increase in self-esteem among kids who experienced numerous medical and mental conditions after completing a mindfulness-based program for eight weeks. The Obama administration has recently approved Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Puerto Rico's plans to provide equal access to excellent educators. Great news for student borrowers who have existing Direct Loans for they will be benefited by a new repayment plan that caps monthly federal student loan payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income.
Teachers are feeling left out when it comes to making decisions on integrating education technology in the classroom, according to a new report. On a Wednesday afternoon in early May, after a full day of studying the Byzantine Empire and sitting through lessons on annotation and critical reading, the sixth-graders in Zsazita Walker’s social studies and language arts class were, expectedly, acting like sixth-graders.
Nearly in unison, the 25 students in class 601 at New York City's Brooklyn Urban Garden School closed their eyes. Students take part in Quiet Time twice a day at BUGS, for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon.
It's one of a handful of meditation programs funded by the New York-based David Lynch Foundation; others target veterans, survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, prisoners and people who are HIV-positive. Lynch, a longtime TM proponent who studied under Maharishi, established the foundation in 2005 to fund meditation instruction in schools in the U.S.
TM consists of repeating a personalized mantra -- it can’t be a word or a sound that has actual meaning, as those are deemed distracting -- silently for 20 minutes. Through twice-a-day meditation, practitioners believe everyone can access an intensely deep rest that allows the body to repair itself and “release deeply rooted stress and tension that sleep never gets rid of,” Roth said. Sarah Rose Belok, left, and Laura Noel, right, are two of the three Quiet Time teachers at BUGS. Because the Quiet Time program is relatively new, data on its impact on kids is limited, but early studies point to better grades, fewer suspensions and reports of better mental health among student meditators.
The David Lynch Foundation focuses its efforts on middle schools and high schools with higher-than-average rates of absenteeism, teacher turnover, and gaps in grades and graduation rates. Quiet Time is part of a broader movement among education districts and individual schools experimenting with programs that include mandatory yoga and optional lessons in mindfulness. In the first semester of Quiet Time at Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, which introduced the program in 2007 and is in a district that has become the one of its strongest supporters, administrators reported that suspensions dropped by 45 percent among students who participated in Quiet Time compared to those who didn’t.
At BUGS, a scoreboard in the hallway keeps weekly track of the classes with the highest-scoring Quiet Time performances. Walker, the BUGS teacher in Brooklyn, occasionally joins her students in meditation or does it on her own before the school day begins. In the hallway, a scoreboard keeps track of the classes with the highest weekly Quiet Time scores, while a display case has two trophies from the past year’s winning sixth- and seventh-grade classes.


According to recent media reports, middle schools in San Francisco have been using the Quiet Program, devised by the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education, that teaches students aged 11 years to 14 years the Hindu practice of transcendental meditation. Since typical school days were filled with mayhem, O’Driscoll was quite unsure when San Francisco Public School District decided to form a partnership with the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education to introduce this particular meditation program in four of its schools, including Visitacion Valley.
But, O’Driscoll claims to have been stunned when over a four-year period, suspensions in the school decreased by 79 percent while academic performances and attendances increased significantly. Similar results were seen at Burton High School, which had earlier been dubbed Fight School. After noticing a 75 percent decrease in suspensions, Kappenhagen decided to extend the school’s timings by 30 minutes so the program could be incorporated in the students’ lives on a daily basis.
Kappenhagen said there is no magic wand that can be used to improve education or life but at the same time, he cited Mayo Clinic’s findings that suggest meditation can in fact increase a person’s average level of focus and calmness. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, repackaged Hindu practices to make them more appealing and acceptable to Western culture.
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All proceeds will go to keeping the Atheist Republic website up and running; providing resources, advocacy, community tools and encouragement to atheists all over the world. The warm or cool air they feel is a reflection of their state of mind, according to practitioners. Psychologists might attribute that to a kind of placebo effect, but in Abu Dhabi-based psychologist, Dr Mehnaz Koory’s opinion, the end justifies the means. Currently two schools in the UAE have engaged the group for their extracurricular meditation training: Delhi Private School Sharjah and Millennium School Dubai.
Meditation involves achieving a state of 'thoughtless awareness' in which the excessive stress producing activity of the mind is neutralized without reducing alertness and effectiveness.
This movement uses the practice of meditation, allowing the person to recognize and accept their situation without judgement. Recently, this form of meditation has made its way into the education sector as psychologists and educators wonder if this could benefit students as well. Twelve years ago, Hawn used her Hawn Foundation to create a program called MindUP with the help of psychologists, neuroscientists, and education experts. Another study in 2011-12 by Mindful Schools saw a significant improvement in the children's behavior after participating in a mindfulness training. School was almost over and the classroom, scattered with posters, worksheets and lesson plans, was buzzing with chatty, curious 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds who knew they'd soon be free from class. The school focuses on sustainability and holistic education and has three full-time staffers who teach kids about the practice of and science behind meditation.
It was initially intended to be a one-off effort, but it took off: In the last seven years especially, it has expanded, and now appears in 18 schools across the country. The organization focuses on Transcendental Meditation, a method made famous by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Among adults, scientific studies have shown that people who meditate have lower stress levels and a decreased risk of high blood pressure.
In their office, they plan Quiet Time lessons and hold appointments with students who want to learn more about meditation.
In a survey released last month, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc. Over three years, Visitacion Valley, which is located in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city, saw a 75 percent overall drop in suspensions.
The school pushed counseling services and peer mediation, after-school tutoring, sports and music lessons and better ties to community groups.
Currently, five schools in San Francisco have Quiet Time, and Superintendent Richard Carranza has said that he wants to see it expand. When it was first launched in California, some parents, as well as a nonprofit called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, protested, saying the practice was rooted in Hinduism and violated the First Amendment.
At BUGS, each student is scored by the teacher on a zero-to-two scale every time he or she meditates.


Under the program, students spend 15 minutes meditating two times each day, as school administrators believe violence outside the school, which is located in one of San Francisco’s shoddiest neighborhoods, had been spilling into the school and thus influencing the demeanor of its students. Principal Bill Kappenhagen agreed he was skeptical at first but once the program was implemented, he was stunned to see the positive impact Quiet Program had on the students. Students, too, have gone on to say that they are more aware of their actions, feel less angry and sense an increased amount of calmness after participating in the program.
Even though the principal cannot alter the environment his students stay in outside of school, he said he is glad to have found a way to help them deal with violence, trauma and stress inside Burton High School on a daily basis. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner. Through my growing years in a Bengali Hindu household, I heard stories about god and his deeds and witnessed the blind faith that my loved ones vested in this superior being. By introducing 10 to 15 minutes of mindful silence into the lives of children, we hope to awaken their positive energy,” he told Khaleej Times. Then when (the instructor) asked me to raise my hand, I felt hot air rise from the top of my head. Each chakra is said to represent different parts of the body and mind, and addressing the way these points feel after the meditative sessions reportedly help practitioners better streamline their lives. According to Kristin Decarr of Education News, this practice is believed to help people stay balanced, focused, and stress free. This program taught kids to use their emotions and de-stress through activities like "brain breaks," which asks them to focus on their breathing for two to three minutes. The year 2016 is another year for high school teachers think of ways to improve professionally. Walker counted down from five, telling her students to make sure the table tops were cleared.
But nearly three-quarters of the students later said they spent the time meditating, reaching the inner depths of their consciousness in deep relaxation. Located in Brooklyn’s Windsor Terrace neighborhood, BUGS serves New York City’s District 15, which includes some of the richest and poorest neighborhoods in the city. The technique’s best-known American practitioner may be the foundation’s namesake, director and TV producer David Lynch. In the last decade, it's garnered $30 million to spread meditation across the world, and boasts of having taught 500,000 students in more than a dozen countries, including Peru, South Africa and Israel. Compared to other methods of meditation, TM requires “no concentration, no control of the mind, no contemplation, no monitoring of thoughts,” according to official TM materials.
About 20 percent of students now are accepted to Lowell High School, the top public high school in the city. Meanwhile, the Hindu American Foundation ran a campaign about the importance of honoring the Hindu roots of yoga and meditation, and called out TM for its secular approach. While adherents of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi claim publically and rather deceitfully, that transcendental meditation is a completely scientific method that helps relieve stress, his critics have often questioned why the yogi chooses to stay quiet about the practice’s religious aspects. Then I reached the age of reason, and there were countless questions in my mind that remained unanswered – not because I left them unaddressed, but because nobody had a reasonable explanation to any of my concerns. With meditation, you feel calm while you’re doing it and stay energised throughout the day,” Heena’s classmate, Jesika Agarwala added. Setting aside vague philosophical terms, Sharma added that the benefits of meditation on young impressionable minds have been recorded the world over. Everyone could take a page out of these kids’ book and use a small window of time during the day to disconnect with their schedules and deadlines,” she said.
A boy walked to the front of the classroom, sat in a chair to face his classmates, and rang a bell.
The school has about 200 students, nearly half of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch, and nearly one-quarter of whom have disabilities. Ultimately, the organization's goal is to raise enough money to allow any school system in the world interested in Quiet Time to institute the program, said Bob Roth, the foundation's executive director.
It feels pleasant,” said Joshua Aronson, an associate professor of applied psychology at New York University who has studied the impact of Quiet Time on students. Although it took several years, Dierke says meditation did the most to turn the school around. Meditation can bring discipline into their lives by helping them learn how to channel their energy to the present. Each trimester, students’ average scores are converted to grades that go on their report cards. We are all guilty of spending most of our time dwelling in the past or planning for the future.



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