Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meditation Education

I recently read an interesting article in the magazine, Scientific American Mind called "The Education of Character" by Ingrid Wikelgren, and the concepts intrigued me because it reminded me of the book I read entitled, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human StrengthSince I cannot find the article online (without a paid subscription, though there is a related blog here), I'll summarize some of what it says.

There are several places, and it was apparently it started by a variety of people, including some actors, where an interesting concept has been used alongside traditional education.  Students in these programs practice a variety of meditation-like breathing exercises and other concentration and "mindfulness" practices.  These practices, along with emotional self-regulation are growing among elementary educators.  According to the article the MindUP program and the similar program PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) have both been producing great results throughout the students' lives.  Though the article concludes with a couple notes about how tweaking children's thinking can be difficult to understand in general and sometimes has mixed results.

It was quite interesting to me that I found this article after reading the book about Willpower because the article (and the following article about increasing brain power) confirmed quite a bit of the book.  Now, I'm not the type of person that reads a single article and totally believes every word, but with this well researched article and that book confirming each other, I'm pretty convinced that one of the most important thing a person can learn, especially at a young age, is patience and self-control.  I'm excited about working on some of these patience-teaching techniques with my boys when I get home, and maybe working on some of it myself.  I'm fairly sure that everyone agrees they could use more self-control.

When I was young, I distinctly remember not being permitted to learn martial art because of the link to east Asian mysticism/religion and meditation.  Now, while I don't regret my parent's decision, I think they did what they felt was right in shielding me from negative influences, I think meditation would be good for me.  The difference between what my parents were afraid of and what I would like to practice is the reason for meditating.  Meditation for the purpose of reaching some mystical higher plane of existence and some out-of-body religious experience would be contrary to what I believe.  However, meditation to focus on self-control or breath control would be healthy.  Also, part of meditation is concentration, it'd be good for my mind to spend some time each day meditating on God.  I guess you could just say "prayer," but I kind of see it as slightly different.  Basically, I only want to concentrate on one aspect of God during meditation.  Though sometimes I'd also like to try to just concentrate on nothing.  Though, technically thinking about nothing doesn't really seem possible to me--we'll see.

Gosh I miss home