Perhaps. Many Health Educators promote the benefits of meditation on mental health and share the practice with their students. With resources that offer free subscriptions for educators like Calm, Headspace and Downdog, it is quite easy to engage students in mindfulness during a class. Probably the most interesting benefit of a particular type of meditation, Transcendental Meditation (TM), is the Maharishi Effect. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, made famous by the Beatles, introduced TM which is the repeated saying of a personally assigned mantra in a specific way. There is way more to it than this basic description but the distinction is important.
The Maharishi Effect has been studied since 1960 in various social, psychological and quantum theories. In short, the Maharishi Effect occurs when a large group of individuals, or 1% of the population, engage in TM at the same time resulting in a reduction of crime. The studies have been peer reviewed and picked apart and my interpretation of them is an oversimplification. However, in one study “there was a statistically and practically significant shift in trend in the direction of reduced rates for each of the variables (Transcendental Meditation® (TM) and TM-Sidhi® program) beginning with the onset of the intervention period” (Dillbeck and Cavanaugh 1). There are many variables hypothesized over the years that contribute to the reduction of violent crime. However, I choose to believe that collective consciousness through shared meditation is one of them.
Teaching Transcendental Meditation, and its more advanced program TM-Sidhi®, to middle school students would be like trying to naiingl jello to a tree. Despite not being associated with any particular belief systems other than personal awareness and clarity, some families inevitably will object to teaching any form of meditation. For these families, I invite students who object to meditation to silently pray on their own or “zone out” during the practice, which are not so distant relatives of mindfulness. I also give permission for students to fall asleep and never force them to close their eyes. Such allowances accommodate more students to engage in an easier guided meditation and empower them to explore more advanced techniques in their future.
Health Teachers Unite! Let’s test the Maharishi Effect. Apparently, World Meditation Day is May 21, 2022. Similar to the arrangement in the cringeworthy movie, Never Been Kissed (consent? Coercion?), could Health Educators around the globe commit to leading a meditation with their students for 10 minutes? It is proposed that at 1:00pm EST on Friday May 20, 2022, Health Educators lead a 10 minute meditation with their students. Could a Maharishi effect occur?
At best, a shared meditative experience could connect us as humans even if for 10 minutes while reducing stress of our students. As the African Philosophy Ubuntu suggests, we are who we are because of our connectivity to other humans. In recent times, feeling spiritually joined to Health Educators worldwide through shared practice could help us surf the underlying current of stress.
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Pair this blog post with the following:
Be OK With Different by Michelle Rawcliffe
Ubuntu in Education: Conflict & Compromise by Tom Hobbs
5 Things I Wish Had Been Covered in Sex Education by Joanna Anagnostou