Meditation at school, is it reasonable? – UNSA‑

In both cases, a scientific review of the numerous studies carried out on the question, most of them on adults, concludes that profits are modest at best, often not significantly different from another relaxation activity. In addition, the majority of studies are of low methodological quality, which prevents concluding on positive effects, and many of them are funded directly or indirectly by the Mind & Life Institute, an American association whose aim is to promote a between Buddhism and science and which promotes mindfulness meditation.

This practice involves modifying the state of consciousness of the studentsit is not only a moment of relaxation or a quiet time. It has side effects and contraindications known for adults (depression, addictions, mental disorders) but very little studied in children and adolescents. The Miviludes report mentions the opinion of a professor at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital who expresses a risk as follows: “in a phase where the symptoms of depression are too intense, a program which consists of returning the spotlight to oneself and exploring one’s emotions would be tantamount to torture”. It is also specified that “in children or adolescents, who are by definition vulnerable and developing individuals, this practice, which involves a certain withdrawal into oneself and invites us to ignore the world around us, can reactivate traumas or buried memories and turn out to be a very unsettling experience”. It is as pointed as this practice can be exploited and constitute a gateway to other movements or groups that are devianteven dangerous, this potentially represents a risk for students but also for teachers who are trained in meditation.

Both opinions emphasize the danger of the amateurism of certain service providers and the current impossibility of controlling what is actually implemented in the classroom under the name “mindfulness meditation”.

This craze for mindfulness meditation inevitably involves economic issues but also societal issues. If it is legitimate and healthy to be concerned about the well-being, the level of stress and the mental health of our students, it deserves serious consideration with means, adapted professionals and a care sector for children. up to the needs. Asking students to manage their level of stress and their discomfort themselves through meditation is largely illusory for those who are really badly off (victims of incest, abuse, etc.) and in a way amounts to leaving them the individual responsibility to get better.

In this regard, the CSEN specifies that “one can also wonder if, instead of trying to reduce students’ stress and anxiety, one could not rather (or also) try to prevent such symptoms by reducing the sources of stress and anxiety. For example, by modifying pedagogical practices and the organization of the school system so that grades, report cards, school counseling generate less stress, so as to promote social-emotional skills, positive classroom climates and less repressive”.

Both opinions conclude that it is unreasonable to want to amplify or generalize mindfulness meditation in the school setting in the current state of the situation.
For Miviludes, it is advisable to remain vigilant vis-à-vis this practice, a fortiori vis-à-vis a young audience, it reminds us that any method presented as a universal remedy must be handled with great vigilance, especially more when it could be of economic and/or ideological interest.
The CSEN for its part recommends that given the many questions remaining open about these practices, and the resulting uncertainty on the benefit/cost analysis, a prudent attitude could be to limit their use for the time being. in the context of scientific research.

The Miviludes report (the part on mindfulness meditation is pp 111-117)
The CSEN note on mindfulness meditation at school

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Meditation at school, is it reasonable? – UNSA‑

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