Artwork by Nik Helbig
Student Artwork, 2014
Many cultures use meditation as a way to balance the mind, stay positive, and in doing so, develop compassion. So many cultures and religions use meditative components like closing their eyes, saying prayers, using prayer beads, reciting quotes or mantras and practicing breathing to take away stress! Religions such as Buddhism use various forms of meditation as part of their religious practice. It is where the word “Zen” comes from! In Hinduism, meditation includes opening of the chakras, doing yoga, chanting mantras such as ‘Aum” and using malas. Meditation is also important in Sikhism while chanting the Mool Mantra. Folks use many forms of meditation in a variety of ways! Some go for walks or exercise, and some use artistic forms such as dancing or even painting to create art. In other words, meditation has been adapted in many ways!. What comes to mind when you think of inner peace?
Art can be a tool used to promote mindfulness, decreasing anxiety and stress. It is therapeutic and an outlet for students to express their feelings without using words. During my practicum, I really wanted to integrate mindfulness into my unit planning, so, I thought about mediums that would work: watercolour. When mixed with water, watercolour has that tranquil, transforming quality. In a variety of cultures, water is used for healing. I decided to have students think about what spaces in nature made them feel at peace. They were to transport themselves into their peaceful landscapes.
Students benefit from "Mindful Mondays", having a 3 minute meditation before class begins. I noticed students concentrate better, and do not feel the need to use their devices as often. It gives them a tech break, away from media's expectations, away from notifications.
If you do integrate mindfulness, meditation and yoga practices into your classes, it is a good idea to explain the origins of meditation to show cultural appreciation and avoid appropriation.