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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 69 and refinement practices, secular meditation, and yoga. Increased self-awareness, mindfulness, self-reflection, emotional intelli- gence, and social skills are among the outcomes associated with these techniques.” In a statement that was echoed by everyone I talked to, the report said that these programs “share a common set of outcomes with mainstream education ... enhancing students’ learning and academic performance, improving the school’s so- cial climate as well as promoting emotional balance and pro- social behaviors.” It goes on to say that the programs also aim to develop “noble qualities such as peacefulness, internal calm, com- passion, empathy, forgiveness, patience, generosity, and love.” “Contemplation” and “contemplative techniques” are not terms you are likely to hear when you’re standing at the bus shelter, and some teachers find them too arcane or Eastern-religion-laden to be accepted into mainstream schools. Garrison finds the term “contemplative” helpful, relying on a definition provided by To- bin Hart, author of The Secret Spiritual Life of Children, as “a third way of knowing that complements the rational and the sensory.” While experts may disagree about what to call it, all seem to want to bring that third way of knowing into American classrooms. LINDA WALLACE TEACHES at an elementary school in Colo- rado. She has taught every grade level of elementary school for close to thirty years and is also a long-time practitioner of contemplative techniques. In the past few years, she has been using exercises where children “focus on their breathing, their thoughts, their eating.” She says, “This has had more impact than anything I’ve seen in my whole teaching career.” First off, it helps the students academically, because they can focus their attention better and deal with all the tests they have to take these days. Life is often hectic and unfocused A child who doesn’t have a sense of meaning and purpose, who is fearful and anxiety ridden, is a child who can’t learn. −L INDA LANTIERI