One School’s Surprising Experiment in Mindfulness

A radical new approach put in practice at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School has turned a spotlight on the West Baltimore school. Rather than sending students to detention, misbehaving students take a trip to the Mindful Moment Room, where they try techniques such as breathing and meditation to help them calm down and re-center.children sitting on top of their desks meditating

Transforming Negative Energy Into a Positive Force

The Mindful Moment Room resulted from a partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, a Baltimore non-profit that has pioneered a number of important mindfulness programs. “It’s amazing,” said Kirk Phillips, the Holistic Me coordinator at Robert W. Coleman. You wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence [but] they do,” said Phillips to an Upworthy writer.

All the students at Robert W. Coleman participate in the mindfulness program. Each day begins and ends with breathing and stretching exercises, which Principal Carrilian Thompson said have made a “huge difference.” In an interview with CBS News, Thompson said the program has “actually taught students how to redirect negative energy into something positive.”

children playing on a playgroundSome of the students end up teaching their parents the mindfulness practices they learned at school. “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, ‘Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe,’” Andres Gonzales, co-founder of Holistic Life, told Oprah Magazine.

Quantifying the Benefits of Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness is centuries old, and reports of its benefits date back just as far. With new technology, however, we’re able to quantify those benefits. Studies indicate that mindfulness can result in a number of positive changes, such as…

  • Improved attention span and focus
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Greater happiness
  • Improved genetic expression, lessening your risk for certain hereditary diseases
  • Prevention of cognitive loss
  • Healthier blood pressure levels
  • Reduction in pain intensity

The results of individual studies don’t always hold up, but the more scientists examine mindfulness, the clearer it becomes that this practice can dramatically improve your wellbeing.

Does This Make You Want to Try Mindfulness for Yourself?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 3,328,750 students were suspended or expelled from public elementary and secondary schools nationwide. At Robert W. Coleman, there have been exactly zero suspensions since the mindfulness program began in 2015. Nearby Patterson Park High School, where the mindfulness program is also used rather than detention, has seen significant drops in suspensions, and increases in attendance, too.

We can’t say for sure that the mindfulness program led to these remarkable numbers, but it certainly makes a compelling case for trying it for yourself.