At Baltimore's Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, if you get in trouble you won't be sent to detention. You'll get meditation instead.
The school started a new program in association with Holistic Life Foundation, Inc., where instead of punishing students, they send them to a plush, pillow-filled meditation room that lets them cool off and relax.
"The value of meditation to students who might otherwise act out is that it gives them a place to go inward and not be overwhelmed by external stimuli," Andres A. Gonzalez, Director of Marketing for Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. told A Plus. "Meditation allows students to take a moment and respond instead of impulsively reacting."
A Plus editor Isaac Saul gave meditation a shot in a live Facebook video this week.
As it turns out, meditation has some scientifically proven benefits that surprised Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar. Lazar and her team found that after eight weeks of meditation, people's brains looked different on scans.
"I did a literature search of the science, and saw evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and an increased quality of life," Lazar told The Washington Post about why she started studying meditation.
Among other things, Lazar's study found more gray matter in the frontal cortex, a region associated with working memory and executive decision making.
And if Robert W. Coleman elementary school is any indication, those studies have some validity. While some people have objected to the practices — claiming it violates the separation of church and state — Gonzalez insists there is nothing religious about it.
"As far as religion goes, we make sure that when we are teaching that we stress that this is a completely secular practice," he said. "Oftentimes people relate mindfulness to Buddhism or Hinduism but we do not bring any religious concepts into our lessons. We frame these techniques as self-regulation tools that are necessary for survival."