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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 72 simultaneously a breeding ground for “mindless masculinity” and the possibility of discovering a “neglected inner dimen- sion.” He was inspired both by teachers of meditation (mainly Buddhist) and a wide variety of educators who were “applying holistic, transpersonal, and spiritual approaches toward higher human development.” He decided to try out some of what they were saying on the football fields of Brooklyn. Forbes obtained permission to spend roughly an hour a week after school with members of a varsity football team. They dis- cussed things that were on the students’ minds “to unload them so they could play football with better focus,” and practiced meditation “as a way to feel what it’s like to be in the zone.” Al- though the carrot dangled before the players was “the zone,” Forbes told them in the first session that “Meditation is not just a means to get whatever you want, but it is part of a wise tradition that helps us realize what is really important.” Boyz 2 Buddhas is not a mirac- ulous redemption story—the stu- dents were often antsy and found meditation quite difficult—but it does show how meditation of- fered the opportunity to notice and discuss feelings more openly before it began to leak over into other parts of the boys’ lives. As one young man said, “I do feel I have more awareness of my thoughts and feelings now than before I learned meditation prac- tices. I feel it in football a little, but mostly in my life and in how I put things in perspective.” Although Forbes continued to work with high school students directly, including a group of troubled girls and a group of dropouts, his experiences inspired him to focus on the larger issues of how to train counselors and create a school environment conducive to what he calls “contem- plative urban education.” He feels the claustrophobia and chaos of the urban school environment provides a wealth of lessons that could be drawn out through contemplative practice: “the interdependence of everyone, the necessity for all of us to get along, the appreciation of difference, and the realization of un- derlying similarities.” education includes a wide range of skills that people need to be successful as they grow up and integrate into society. They will not only need to be academically intelligent but also emotionally, socially, and spiritually intelligent.” Above all, Lantieri says, students, teachers, and school systems must have approaches, supported by sound research, that allow them to choose for themselves and to see what works in their own context. “You have to be able to let go of your preconceived notion of how you think it should happen,” she says. “If you are too narrow, thinking that what schools need is your particular program from a particular tradition—perhaps because it worked so well for you—that may not be something that is developmen- tally appropriate and can be widely adopted. In fact, people have asked for our program for their schools, but I am not ready to do that. We need to learn much more and pro- vide basic knowledge and skills to teachers, parents, and principals, not simply offer a program.” DAVID FORBES HAS ALSO worked within the New York City school sys- tem. His focus has largely been on high school, a time, many educa- tors agree, when habits have become deeply ingrained and transforma- tion can be difficult. Forbes’ focus is also on counseling, a natural fit for someone who hopes to bring contemplative practices into high schools. A long-time meditator, he teaches school counseling in the School of Education at Brooklyn College/City University of New York. His latest book, Boyz 2 Bud- dhas, focuses the lens of contempla- tive practice on an issue that has been widely discussed and debated since the massacre at Columbine and other violent incidents: What to do about troubled boys and what Forbes calls “mindless mascu- linity”? As horrific as these incidents were, Forbes was heartened by the attention they brought to the plight of young males. Like most counselors, Forbes feels that it is necessary to en- gage students by working within the world they know, “to pro- mote youth development and culture, by working both to expose its destructive, unhealthy aspects and to tease out its transcen- dent possibilities.” He zeroed in on sports as an area that offered It’s not good enough to know about reality; you need to change how you see reality. Real education is transformation. −ARTHUR ZAJONC