For those of us older than 30 and not from southern California, meditation was not part of our childhood curriculum. If we engaged in deep breathing, it was because we were running too fast, not because we were part of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
But meditation in classrooms is sky-rocketing. Youth meditation programs have popped up in England, the US, Canada, and India. Research shows that it is helping to reduce stress and decrease rates of depression. It may also improve academic results though this area of research is less developed.
Last year Educational Psychology Review looked at evidence from 15 peer-reviewed studies examining whether meditation improved children’s well-being, social competence and academic performance. It found that school-based meditation is beneficial in the majority of cases, with 61% of the results being statistically significant. The majority of effects were small, though a third were medium or strong. They ranged from kids reporting fewer feelings of anxiety and stronger friendships, to teachers seeing more settled classrooms.