I was recently invited into a Math Teacher’s classes to lead her students in meditation. The teacher has been working with me over several months and has introduced a ritual of silence and stillness at the beginning of her classes. While her classes appreciate the still time before their lesson they had requested I do a repeat visit with a longer meditation.
During the day I led about sixty students in total. In the last group of the day the students bounded into the room, obviously ready for their Christmas break. As it was the last period before their break two students were asked to leave the room to complete missed tests. I began the meditation asking the students what they remembered from our previous session. I then talked briefly about how strongly we are affected by compulsions to be always busy and doing something. They agreed this was the case and were looking forward to managing their compulsions. We dimmed the lights and began.
I led a fifteen meditation encouraging them to be still and silent. I encouraged the students to notice any compulsions as they arise, and instead of doing something relax their body and watch their breath instead. After the meditation the class was very still and silent. The two girls who had been outside crept in and sat down without disturbing the silence in the room.
I asked the class who had felt compulsions to move their hands, scratch, tap or look around? Most of the class raised their hands. I noticed one student at the front of the room who looked very calm "How was it?" She said it was torture. “What is your name?” I asked. She said Nancy. I asked the rest of the group "Who else had the same experience as Nancy?" About 2/3rds of the group raised their hands. I asked the class "What normally happens in a group of teenagers who are feeling tortured?" A boy called out "It's chaos!"
I asked "How is it possible so many of you are feeling tortured and yet the class is so still and silent?" No answer.
I turned to one of the girls who had entered the room at the end of the meditation. I asked her why she had sat down so quietly. She said because it was so peaceful she did not want to disturb the room. Nancy whirled around in surprise and blurted “I didn’t even hear you come into the room!”
I left the group with one final question to ponder: “How is it that so many of you felt tortured on the inside, yet when someone comes in the room they felt you were calm and peaceful?”
Despite the torturous experience the group applauded and beamed at me as the bell rang. I looked at their teacher who was smiling and lit up like a Christmas tree.
For further information on my work with teachers, parents and students write me or go to my website.
"Lawrence Carroll's workshop on personal stress management, which he conducted with my Columbia Grad School class
was a huge success."
Neal Pilson, Columbia University, Former President, CBS Sports