Meditative Breathing A Catalyst for Positive Change
The New Zealand government faces substantive challenges in meeting both the health and education needs of a significant number of our children who are vulnerable to alienation and inform the statistics of mental health distress and academic underachievement. The New Zealand Ministry of Education acknowledges that the education system is not meeting the needs of its most disadvantaged young people. This research explored whether a programme of meditative breathing might contribute to the alleviation of this situation by supporting the development of self-regulation and well-being in students. It also sought to enable student agency by adding nuanced student voice to the literature in this field. While there is an increasing number of peer-reviewed studies in this field, there are few studies that encourage the participants to describe their experiences directly in their own words or images. The main research question was ‘What are student’s experience of guided meditative breathing?’ The sub-questions were ‘Does it contribute to their wellbeing?’ and ‘Does it contribute to their learning?’. Students participated in a ten-week programme of daily meditative breathing. Data was collected from the weekly cogenerative dialogue, journals, from a heuristic and teacher recorded reflections with a three-month follow-up. The meditative breathing intervention intervention was described by students and the classroom teacher as leading to a calmer and more peaceful classroom climate. They indicated reduced anxiety, increased clarity of thinking, improved self-regulation and engagement. A number of students described taking the skills that they had learned in the programme and regularly applying them in other contexts. Implications for teachers and teacher training are discussed.