Dana Hall tries a “moment to be”

As class begins, a soft bell rings; a teacher and students go into a state of meditative relaxation for two minutes to relieve their minds. The bell rings again, and it’s time to work.

This year, Ms. Kathleen Murdock, the Consultant for Community Wellbeing, started the two-minute meditation project after she read an article about business leaders who encouraged their employees to meditate during work hours as it helped them to get into a better state of mind for work. This story fascinated her.

To put this theory in action, Ms. Murdock asked teachers to volunteer for six weeks to start class with two minutes of silence, which Ms. Murdock called a “moment to be.”

At the end of the study she surveyed 160 students, and the results “were very positive. Most of the students (80%) really valued it and felt that their focus was better in class; they felt more relaxed.” Teachers reported that “the class felt more relaxed, and they enjoyed teaching more. The classes were more productive.”

Some teachers who felt this positive effect, such as Spanish teacher Ms. Susan Naughton and Social Studies teacher Mr. Cook, have continued to do “moment to be.” Mr. Cook begins his Western Civilization classes with a two-minute meditation, finding it a “helpful tool to keep you focused and not think about what has happened or what will happen.”  His student Emily Arencibia ’15 enjoys these two minutes for the rest they provide.

Other classes have not continued the “moment to be,” and some teachers didn’t volunteer in the first place. English teacher Ms. Krista Falcone explains that she “often feels pressure in class to fit in what [she] needs to in just one hour.” Also, some students don’t care for the brief meditation. Raya Husami ’16 says that she “feels tired after those two minutes,” calling herself “the kind of person who has to keep going.”

Ms. Murdock hopes eventually to have a “moment to be” at the beginning of every class. She says that her findings reveal that meditation helps people feel better physically and improves their concentration. She comments, “Our brains need to transition from class to class. If we have a couple of minutes to breath and slow down, our whole body relaxes. When we relax, we are … more open to learning, and we are able to concentrate more.”

Photo: Meditation bowl. Photo credit: Heather Panahi.

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