Classroom meditation benefits pupils and teachers

Meditation before and after lessons is creating classroom success stories for a school in Lancashire

Adding a few minutes of transcendental meditation to the school day for pupils and teachers has made such a difference to a private school in Lancashire that last year it was awarded Free School status by the government.

The Maharishi School in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, is named after the founder of transcendental meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Here, meditation is practiced before and after a standard school day, a combination which, together with a few lessons of interdisciplinary study, is known as consciousness-based education.

Head Teacher Dr Derek Cassells explains: “Consciousness-based education directly develops receptivity, intelligence, creativity, neurophysiological integration and better health in all students irrespective of their background, faith, attitudes, gender or abilities. This is because the quality of the students’ awareness is fundamental to successful educational outcomes.

“Likewise, all of the teachers at the school benefit tremendously from their morning and evening practice of transcendental meditation, which gives them the relaxation and alertness to manage every class effectively.”

Admissions to the school are not based on academic merit, yet it has achieved the top category of ‘outstanding’ in reports by the government inspectorate of schools, Ofsted. GCSE examination results rank the school among the highest in the county of Lancashire and in the top 2.5% nationally. These results have been consistent since the school opened 25 years ago.

Ofsted reported: “The school’s focus on individuals and its use of meditation and the quest for balance underpins all that it does. Students are calm, confident, self-assured, polite and considerate. They are eager to acquire knowledge and skills and enjoy learning.”

“People that regularly meditate in this way report inner happiness, better health, clear thinking and improved decision-making”

Transcendental meditation is currently practiced by over 200,000 students at schools and universities in 50 countries. This particular technique of meditation is not linked to any religious or philosophical belief and is said to involve no effort or concentration. Practiced by popular figures such as Russell Brand and Oprah Winfrey, the simple technique involves focusing on a mantra or sound and is easy for children to learn, allowing their attention to settle to a calm state of restful alertness.

Former pupils are enthusiastic about the additional element to their daily routine. “I attended Maharishi School my entire school life and wouldn’t change a day of it,” says Ben Cross, a post-doctorate student at Cambridge University.

For some, the stress-free atmosphere of the school is a key ingredient. Parent Carla Robinson explains: “My son was bullied at the school he was at previously. Since coming to Maharishi School he has thrived in an atmosphere where differences are appreciated and children are supportive of one another.”

Over six hundred scientific studies, the majority published in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals, confirm the wide range of benefits to mind, body and wellbeing that transcendental meditation affords.

People that regularly meditate in this way report inner happiness, better health, clear thinking and improved decision-making.

“Based on what I’ve observed with thousands of pupils and dozens of teachers in the past 24 years, it is clear that consciousness-based education is unique in its effectiveness in systematically developing the mental and physical potential of every student,” says Dr Cassells. “One sees them grow in the ability to fulfil their own desires while contributing to the good of everyone around them.”