Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Dhamma in My Catholic High School

By Ryanshelton7 @LivingVipassana

I started teaching at a Catholic High School in August with the no intention of discussing meditation. I was hired to teach Chemistry and Physics, so that was my focus, but a strange series of events has caused the wheel of dhamma to start turning. When the administration informed me that their primary goal was to reduce student stress, I started talking to different people about my meditation experience.

Within a month, I was in charge of a meditation club that would meet every 2 weeks to practice 10 minutes of Anapana together. Initially there was a reasonable amount of interest, but I was so nervous about getting into trouble that I didn’t give them much instruction. I didn’t want to talk about Buddha, sankaras, or even my own personal experience because I thought the information could be misinterpreted second hand, so I just asked them to focus on their breath with me. Similar to adults, the students other commitments started crowding out their meditation practices, but I never heard one concern or complaint about what I was teaching. This gave me confidence to be a little more bold.

A second opportunity arose when my school was looking for 3 teachers to prepare a Ted Talk type presentation for the students related to stress. I was again nervous, but I started asking inquiring. The campus minister and I decided if I wanted to give a presentation on meditation, it would be smart to practice with a smaller group to see how it was received. I prepared a 35 minute presentation and gave it to both of my Chemistry classes with a few teachers present. The presentation got wonderful reviews, and my classes have decided they want to meditate at the beginning of each class. Again, I received no negative feedback from teachers, parents, or students regarding me lesson.

I just gave my presentation to 200 people. That’s 1/3 of the school. Almost everyone was interested and engaged. When I asked the audience to close their eyes and focus on their breath for 5 minutes, everyone participated. So far the feedback has been incredibly supportive with many students asking questions and expressing interest. Some faculty have commented on how their students were calm and attentive in the classes following my presentation. And still, I’ve received no negative feedback. Over the next month, I’ll be giving he presentation 2 more times so all of the students will see it. I’m not sure where things will go from their, but I’m optimistic that the dhamma wheel will continue to turn. For now, I just need to keep meditating. Time to meditate.

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