All this enthusiasm for meditation raises a few questions.
  1. In recent years, mindfulness meditation has been co-opted into a profitable self-help practice.
    Businesses like it because mindful employees are more productive.
  2. Now, many schools are beginning to teach the practice as well.
  3. Students learn to observe their thoughts while focusing on the breath. They also practice cultivating gratitude, and being fully aware of all their senses.
    It’s a secularized version of a Buddhist meditation style called “vipassana”.
  4. In recent years, many nonprofits and startups have brought mindfulness curriculums to the classroom.
    The two largest organizations say they’ve reached over 800,000 students around the world.
  5. Mindfulness groups say the practice can alleviate rising levels of anxiety and depression, and studies seem to support their claims.
    One study of 400 low-income, most minority children found substantial improvements in just five weeks.
  6. Child development experts agree.
    “Mindfulness is a way to stop the bleeding, and sometimes a Band-Aid does help. This is something teachers can do immediately, and it isn’t that difficult to implement. You get a lot of bang for your buck, and anyone who is against it isn’t thinking clearly,” says Denise Pope, author and senior lecturer at Stanford.
  7. But skeptics fear that mindfulness is just a cover for traditional discipline.
    They point to schools with “calm-down chairs” and “Mindful Moment Rooms”.
  8. Still, most people seem to see the benefits of the practice.
    Billy Bicket of Mindful Schools is quick to distinguish classroom mindfulness from “corporate” mindfulness.
  9. “What we don’t want is for people to think of this as a way to shut kids up or get them to produce…What we want to do is give children tools to live more considerately.”