Embracing the Contemplative Life in the Classroom
One need only read the latest health newsletter to learn that meditation has many physical and psychological benefits. That part of the research has been done for us many times over. Time-outs, breaks, rest after long work, all are known to help. We sit with our work, we read, write, study, and then we walk away. And in the period following the work, when all the material is settling in our brain, we may notice that an insight comes to us. We know, then, that the rhythm of working and resting is good. Resting will make us smarter and more productive in the long run. But can that research also take us out of the mindset that assumes the only reason to meditate is so that we can be even more productive than we are and live five years longer? Is it possible that meditation can change us in ways that help us to suffer less? Feel more connected to others? Solve some of the world’s problems? At this late date in our human and planetary history, maybe we could stand to be less aggressive in our approaches to progress. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that, “in the peace movement there is a lot of anger, frustration, and misunderstanding. The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter” (1987, p. 79).