Research shows that just 10 minutes of meditation per day can increase business students’ physical, mental and emotional awareness. (Shutterstock)
The fast pace of the business world — where competition is the rule and return on investment decides everything — can be challenging for business students.
They are expected to know the rules of business inside out but they also need to learn to master their emotions, to enable efficient and ethical decision making.
A traditional business education provides few opportunities for students to cultivate emotional resilience, empathy and ethical decision-making. Incorporating meditation into the curriculum could be a contribution to rectifying this.
Preliminary findings from a study conducted with business students at Simon Fraser University show that even 10 minutes of classroom meditation can gradually increase students’ levels of physical, mental and emotional awareness.
Can meditation help all students — from elementary to university — to become more peaceful, calm and better decision makers?
Positivity, creativity, connection
Our study, conducted with 93 students of a third year Business Ethics course in 2016, revealed that students who meditated in the classroom experienced a transformation in their thinking and behaviour.
Initially, these students found it challenging to control their “monkey minds” during a 10 minute meditation.
Interestingly, with practice over three months duration, 10 minutes became short for them, and they felt motivated to practice more at home.
For most of the students, meditation was a first time experience, and gradually they began to feel calmness and equanimity. Meditation allowed them to know themselves better, helping them feel more relaxed and peaceful. It seemed to increase students’ level of physical, mental and emotional awareness.
Moreover, students also reported waking dreams, visions and a sense of tranquility during meditation.
Most of the interviewed students said that they enjoyed meditation, and felt happy that they could attend the course.
Improving children’s wellbeing
Meditation is not just for adults. Children and adolescents also benefit. Research shows that meditation in the classroom helps students become more focused, calm, quiet, settled and rested — by providing them an opportunity to learn to relax and reflect.
Researchers from the Universities of Udine and Rome in Italy, studied the effects of a mindfulness meditation training on a group of 16 healthy elementary school children aged seven to eight years old.
They found that meditation training improved children’s attention and reduced internalizing problems, such as fearfulness, withdrawal from social groups, anxiety and depression, improving their psychological well-being.
Ten to 12 minutes of meditation also enhances positivity and creativity among students — by reducing restlessness, nervousness and irritation — according to research from Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management.
More importantly 10 minutes of meditation daily can enable us to connect with ourselves, get acquainted with our innermost feelings and have better plans for future.
Changes in the brain
At the physiological level, research shows that meditation can reduce stress, pain, anxiety, cardiovascular diseases and insomnia.
Neuroscience findings also suggest that brain can be changed structurally and functionally through regular practice of meditation — resulting in improved emotional and mental states.
We also spoke informally with Dr. Deepak Chopra, alternative medicine advocate, public speaker and writer, during a conference in Tuscon, Arizona, in 2016. He unveiled regular meditation as the most important factor behind his charismatic personality and high level of energy, in the context of his extremely busy and socially-committed life.
Furthermore, there is ample research to show that the largest effects of meditation are experienced by those areas of brain which are responsible for happiness and positive feelings.
A question of commitment
The above discussion provides a glimpse of the potential of a meditation practice for students of all ages.
A meditation practice does not require any sophisticated equipment, infrastructure, support system or money. It requires only commitment — to dedicate at least 10 minutes everyday. And a small space to sit or stand comfortably.
Meditation as a part of regular teaching can play an important role not only in enabling students to increase their self-awareness, but also in changing their perspective to some extent.
We think it is time for schools at all levels to acknowledge meditation practices as an important part of any curriculum — for the benefits of students and society as well.
About The Authors
Thomas Culham, Visiting Lecturer, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Simon Fraser University and Neha Shivhare, Assistant Professor, Dayalbagh Educational Institute, India; Fellow, Simon Fraser University
- Sitting Still Like a Frog
Brand: Eline Snel
- Myla Kabat-Zinn
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
Includes a 60-minute audio CD of guided exercises read by Myla Kabat-Zinn.
Mindfulness—the quality of attention that combines full awareness with acceptance of each moment, just as it is—is gaining broad acceptance among mental health professionals as an adjunct to treatment. This little book is a very appealing introduction to mindfulness meditation for children and their parents. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware. The book contains eleven practices that focus on just these scenarios, along with short examples and anecdotes throughout. Included with purchase is an audio CD with guided meditations, voiced by Myla Kabat-Zinn, who along with her husband, Jon Kabat-Zinn, popularized mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as a therapeutic approach.
Brand: BAREFOOT BOOKS
Studio: Stewart, Whitney
Label: Stewart, Whitney
Publisher: Stewart, Whitney
Manufacturer: Stewart, Whitney
- Annaka Harris
Playing games is a great way for kids to develop their focusing and attention skills and to become more mindful. This card deck helps parents, caregivers, and teachers cultivate these qualities at home or in a school setting. The games develop what Susan Kaiser Greenland calls the "new A, B, C's" for learning and for a happy and successful life: Attention, Balance, and Compassion. In a playful way, the games introduce kids to breathing practices and techniques for developing focus, concentration, and sensory awareness, and identifying and self-regulating emotions, among other skills. They include "anchor" games that develop concentration; visualization games that encourage kindness and focus; analytical games that cultivate clear thinking; and awareness games that develop all of these qualities and give greater insight into ourselves, others, and relationships. The deck contains 55 5X7 illustrated cards, each devoted to one game or activity, and comes in a sturdy, beautifully designed box.