Getting a meditation program inside Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Meditation program targets CMS

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Many school districts are now relying on meditation to help bring order to the classrooms and bring calm to disruptive students. Some school districts are even opting to use the meditation rather than detention.

The Heartfulness Institute Program has been around for about 20 years. It trains teachers how to use relaxing techniques to cope with their classrooms and teaches them how to lead their students into relaxing exercises.

“Everybody is going through a lot of emotions,” Heartfulness Program Facilitator Padmaja Bingu said. “Everybody needs some kind of tools that they can integrate into their daily life - whether it at home or at school.”

The Heartfulness Program for Schools is currently in about 35 schools nationwide, with 550 educators and nearly 3,000 students using the program to make a difference in the classrooms. The program is located in classrooms in Michigan, Texas, California and other states.

Leaders want to bring the program to Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District as well. Bingu, who has two kids in CMS, says she has reached out to the district. While she waits, she says she will target her kids’ schools first to see if there is interest.

Bingu claims this program is for all kids and it doesn’t take long to work.

“We are targeting the entire school community,” Bingu said. “Imagine a situation where we are trying to do a relaxation technique in the classroom and all the students are relaxed - it changes that feeling in the classroom within 5 minutes, within 10 minutes - and that definitely helps those disruptive students. Also, they start tuning into that quiet environment.”

Heartfulness Director Ranjani Iyer says the program is evidence-based and school districts are pleased with the results. Medical publication “PubMed” reviewed the program.

The conclusions of that review state, "This study suggests that HPS helps reduce stress levels and improve well-being in children by cultivating positivity and fostering social and self-awareness. Integrating HPS in a school curriculum will benefit the students in building their emotional intelligence, and will nurture their relationship and mental well-being within and beyond the school.”

Iyer believes this program is needed in schools. Organizers say it costs nothing to implement and the curriculum for teachers to use is free.

“When they are able to manage themselves better, they are able to build relationships. They are about to be stronger in the community and also be stronger as an individual who can do and reach their own brilliant selves,” Iyer said.

Iyer says not only can this be a way to handle disruptive students, but it can also be a way to help young students deal with their challenges.

“Even the elementary school kids nowadays come back and tell us that they are able to sleep better,” Iyer said. “They are able to feel better about themselves.”

Both Bungu and Iyer are from India. They say this meditation is not a way to persuade people to practice a certain belief.

“The way we are asking them to self-observe has nothing to do with any kind of religious practices or anything,” Bingu said.

Leaders say the whole purpose of the meditation is to empower educators and provide them tools and techniques to bring peace in the classrooms.

And there has been some progress: two CMS principals have already received the information and the next step is for them to sit down with Bingu.

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