There has been an article on CNN where an interesting experiment has been carried out in a school in Baltimore, the USA. This is a school in an impoverished area and has had many discipline and behavioural issues with the children. Instead of detention for the children who misbehave, they started introducing mindfulness meditation and yoga to the children. This has had amazingly positive impact. It reflects a very important principle, our usual approach to a child who is misbehaving is to punish them. In punishing them we are creating the perception, that since the child has done something ‘wrong’ that means that they are bad. And because they are bad they need to feel bad. I am saying this very simplistically but it has an interesting impact on our lives. We are not bad, we just behave badly.
Our behaviour and ability to respond to situations is a cultivated response – meaning it is a learned behaviour. Being able to distinguish helps us to recognise that bad behaviour means that a person is unable to draw on their positive innate qualities. We can only strengthen our higher values and qualities when we learn to self regulate ourselves and this means learning to self reflect and learn empathy. So teaching a child to be more mindful and transform the emotions of anger to peace by breathing out the anger and meditating a child learns to become more reflective and learn to develop alternative ways to respond to situations that may trigger anger. Taking time to reflect, to pause and become peaceful and calm will help us to draw out and strengthen within ourselves our deeper more positive qualities. We are aware, that in any situation we have a choice. common wisdom tells us, that in the moment don’t react but respond. Reacting is automatic and habitual. Being responsive is more powerful. This ability to respond and not react needs to be developed within the self, and that begins by creating the practice of being more mindful, reflecting on yourself and meditating on positive and life affirming attitudes.
How different our world would be if people really thought about the impact of what they were saying or doing rather than reacting from fear, anger or greed. Perhaps we would be able to have more constructive dialogue, be creative in exploring solutions and live with greater harmony. We all desire a more peaceful world, however that begins with ourselves. In order for me to be more peaceful I need to invest in myself and in daily routine time and space to pause, reflect and redirect myself.