Relaxation Over Guns: Baltimore High School Turns to Meditation Rather Than Violence
“I knew we had to do something that was not ordinary”
By: Emily J
Imagine that lying down and doing a meditation exercise was required by your school. Every day at the beginning of school and at the end, you listen to a recording of your principal leading you through a series of breathing exercises where you calm down, relax, and forget about the stresses that have happened in your life.
In Baltimore, Maryland, Patterson High School is doing just that.
Students that go to Patterson are rough and tough city kids. Some of them are immigrants that have escaped the violence in Central America with their families. Others, are victims of hate crimes or have been affected by one. Baltimore is set out to be one of the most violent cities in the world with 300 murders and 1,000 nonfatal shootings occurring each year.
“When you look at our children and you compare their situations every day, they feel like it could be their last day. Every day they feel like they may have to take someone else’s life if it came to it. Every day they’re dealing with a close friend or comrade or family member that was killed senselessly,” Vance Benton told The Guardian.
So when the Holistic Life Foundation came to Patterson High, Vance knew he had no choice. He was afraid at first. He didn’t know if bringing yoga and meditation to an inner-city school would be safe or beneficial. Then he realize his students couldn’t focus on their books if they were dealing with trauma.
“When this opportunity was brought to me, I knew we had to do something that was not ordinary because we have a situation and we have issues that are not ordinary,” He continued.
Ever since Holistic Life has been in Patterson, hate crimes throughout the school and disciplinary issues have been cut in half.
“Whenever there is a child who is acting up or not focused, getting into a fight, the teacher can refer this child to the Mindful Moment room. They sit down with our staff, we have about 15 minutes with them, they do some active listening to figure out what it is the kids are complaining about, whatever is going on. They’ll lead them through some breathing exercise, meditation, give them some tea, send them back to the class,” said Andres Gonzalez, one of the founders of Holistic Life.
What do you think YSBnow fam? Do you think meditation and breathing exercises should be required at your school? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us at @ysbnow!
Picture Courtesy of: Hollistic Life Foundation