07/09/2012 07:48 am ET Updated Sep 08, 2012

Mindfulness Meditation Needs to Be in Every School in America

Mindfulness meditation needs to be in every school in America.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that is dear to my heart because when I was 18, I suffered from severe anxiety. My anxiety was brought on by having to deal with the day-to-day stresses that our children are currently facing. Stresses such as having to do perfectly on tests, needing to fit in, and being required to sit in a classroom and focus for hours without breaks. Because of the overwhelming stress in school, I did what any young kid does when he's under pressure -- I rebelled. I became a cowboy, I got in fights, I got suspend, and I spent the majority of my academic career in the principal's office.

Then I was introduced to a meditative practice that forever changed my life. I started to very simply close my eyes and focus on my breathing. This very simple technique took away my stress, and in a short while, I no longer had any anxiety and never got in trouble again. I went on to graduate from college and never had to deal with serve anxiety again.

I was fortunate. Most kids are not -- stress builds up so much in school that some kids go find a gun and shoot someone to relieve stress. We have a stress epidemic occurring in schools all across America that is leading to violence, kids dropping out of school, and even worse, children committing suicide. Recent research has found that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24.

This is not something we should put aside and say "Let's think about at another date." There is a solution to the problems that our education system is currently facing -- it's called mindfulness. It's backed by countless studies by some of the brightest minds in America.

More importantly, there are programs that address this issue by bringing it into schools. One wonderful person named Goldie Hawn is working tirelessly to bring her program MindUP to as many schools as possible.


According to the program's website and promotional materials, MindUP is a scientifically-based system rooted in cognitive neuroscience, evidence-based classroom pedagogy, and mindful education practices. It works with the latest findings in positive psychology and social and emotional learning (SEL). The skills taught to students are focused attention and non-reactive motoring from moment to moment. These skills give the potential for a long-term impact on the emotional wellbeing and brain function of children.

MindUP provides children with tools to help them manage emotions and behaviors, reduce stress, sharpen focus, and increase optimism and empathy. MindUP is one of many programs that needs to be implemented in not only every school in America but in every school in the world.

I feel forever indebted as a person who at one time suffered from this type of overwhelming stress and anxiety, and feel moved to raise awareness about a topic that radically changed my life. The wellbeing of a nation starts with the children. If we can train our children with good habits, it will improve every aspect of our county. By incorporating more mindfulness-based practices into education and society, we can greatly improve America.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

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