Meditation “an excellent discipline tool” for schools

Meditation “an excellent discipline tool” for schools

At the end of the third week of IMediate Africa (IMA), the facilitation of the peace meditation in schools is reported to have great spin-offs for more learner and educator involvement in Art of Living activities.

Click here to watch eNCA news coverage of I Meditate Africa 

With Africa Day on 28 May, over 375 000 students and educators have already meditated for peace in Africa. In the Western Cape, 16 dedicated volunteers have covered about 50 learning institutions, mostly in disadvantage areas where poverty, crime and violence are causing high levels of stress in communities. What helped the team tremendously is that the provincial Department of Education has endorsed volunteers’ visits to schools, even assigning staff to contact schools to encourage them to participate in the peace meditation sessions.

Brenda Pietersen, a departmental learning support advisor tasked to assist, speaks with appreciation of the initiative: “I advocate participation to schools because meditation is an excellent discipline tool. It can be used in the classroom to centre and focus children, and teachers will have less discipline problems if they use it. I believe in it, and as a teacher I used breathing techniques to get the children to calm down.” Her schools psychologist colleague, Neil de Waal, corroborates: “The principals and teachers are in awe of the results and effect it (the peace mediation) had on the learners.”

Testimony from an IMeditate Africa volunteer:

Merinda Hill, from Cape Town shares this inspirational experience:

“We did an IMeditateAfrica session with Portia Primary School, which is located on the border of Lansdowne and Hanover Park - a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. Most of the learners come from Hanover Park and it’s an area filled with poverty and daily gangster activity, which explain all the violence, crime and a drug pandemic. The learners range from Grade R to Grade 7, ages 6 to 13. They were so still and in the present moment that the noise just disappeared. The pupils were so moved by the experience that they went to their teachers and told them that they never had such a deep rest before, and that they felt so energised and happy; they felt very disciplined and they really wanted to have this experience over and over and over again on a daily basis. After we left the school, some of the 10 – 12-year-old pupils – with the teachers – put together a greeting card to IMeditate Africa and then everyone signed the card, and also a letter to express the gratitude and thanks, and how this experience has really energised and changed their lives.”

For volunteers like Sandrika Chetty, IMA is an opportunity to get more people exposed to the benefits and value of mediation: “Change starts within. Meditation is a daily practice of mine, and I can see the transformation it has made in my life. It is an essential tool in helping individuals to deal with today's challenges.”

Elizabeth Beer, who with her husband Francios is coordinating the Cape Town I Meditate Africa activities, emphasises the “opportunity to take the beautiful practise of meditation into educational institutes and teach our youth that there is another way to manage stress”. She is grateful to be able to give to others without wanting anything back in return: “I am involved as I believe that, through meditation, we can change our future … Seeing how the children respond to the sessions and how relaxed and calm they are afterwards is really beautiful.”

By using the visits to schools to introduce Art of Living courses, a big spin-off is that several schools – especially in stressed communities – have asked the volunteers to return to hold Breath, Water, Sound workshops.

Expressed best in their own words, this testimony from Modderdam High School in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, where fears of gang activities amongst girls were reported in the news earlier this year:

From the all teachers: What have you done to the children, we have never seen them so quiet and peaceful; did you hypnotise them? Modderdam is one of the most stressed schools in terms of violence, drugs and teenage pregnancy. We are definitely booked to do the Breath Water Sound program this year.


Written by:

Charmaine Smith, 21 May 2016, Cape Town