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Schools Teach Kids Meditation to Alleviate Stress

Practiced by celebrities and the Marines alike, mindfulness meditation has become a routine in battling daily stress and anxiety. As it becomes more popular, studies show that meditation is producing health benefits, being just as effective as medication for depression, anxiety and pain. With the success of meditation with adults, schools have taken notice of this new age practice and added it to their academic curriculum due to positive results.

When New Haven Academy in New Haven, Connecticut, started to require students to take yoga and meditation classes, studies found that the stress hormone cortisol was significantly reduced among students. Schools that implemented the Transcendental Meditation program Quiet Time saw higher scores in standardized tests compared to schools that did not offer the program. Visitacion Valley Middle School found attendance rates skyrocketed to 98 percent, improved grade-point averages and increased happiness levels. In addition, students seemed to have better self-control, attentiveness and respect.

Programs such as Headstand, which "empowers at-risk youth in K–12 to combat toxic stress through mindfulness, yoga and character education," have been praised by many students, even though they were initially hesitant to try.

"Just having a good 45 minutes to not hear any noise and keep to yourself mentally actually helped me prepare for the next class periods," said Michael, a student who participated in Headstand, reported to The Atlantic. "After yoga class, I would feel pretty rejuvenated."

Not only does meditation help with stress, it also encourages students to embrace themselves as individuals with characteristics that they should not be ashamed about.

"My imperfections were what made me unique," said Tracy, another Headstand student. "Through yoga, I reprogrammed my mind to accept my disabilities and to not be crippled by them. I still have a twisted spine, but I can persevere through it."

No matter what background or circumstances students face, mindfulness and meditation can be a mental oasis for them to take time to recuperate from the anxiety and stress of daily life and develop skills to create a peace of mind when necessary.

Photography by: Flickr: Creative Commons/Khuroshvili Ilya

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