With regard to health and well being, truth be told, I haven’t yet found anything closely resembling the magic pill. This includes meditation. And while most tend to believe that there is something out there that can relieve them of their woes, when it comes down to it, a more integral approach is needed to foster a state of wellness. So why is this important? Well, keep reading….
Checkout this recent Huffington Post from David Vognar who writes about inner-city violence and the call for urban leaders to pay more attention to innovative new data from the fields of brain science and psychology. According to Vognar, our old social ways of dealing with inner-city issues no longer work. His solution? Begin to consider social programs that cultivate inward reflection – practices like meditation. Not only does meditation help decrease fear, but some studies report that a meditation practice can actually cause an increase in the brain’s frontal lobe gray matter (Vognar writes that less gray matter can contribute to anti-social personality traits).
As brain science and meditation studies advance further, there will be more quantifiable reasons for pioneering meditation practice among the populations that society shunts aside. Yet already, there are several ways to experiment with meditation in the field of social work. A realistic direct practice is to start an after-school group for at-risk youth within the education system that specifically focuses on meditation and the extended use of mindfulness techniques. Those with discipline problems can be offered the program as an alternative to more punitive options. Meditation sessions can be slotted directly to follow scheduled class time or can be incorporated within the school day, and afterward participants can share the challenges and breakthroughs in their practice. Additionally, leaders can solicit public participation, thereby helping those suffering less severe mental illness to prevent serious developments.
Another venue for this unique method of treatment would be juvenile detention programs. Most modern treatment facilities offer some form of behavioral therapy, which emphasizes meditation principles such as mindfulness and deep breathing, in addition to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Yet programs seldom offer guided meditation practice with dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). These programs can be expanded to offer group meditation sessions, more directly taking patients through the at times taxing process of quieting the mind, as opposed to the piecemeal instructions patients currently receive when introduced to DBT.
A more adventurous direct practice would link meditation to prevention even more strongly by starting meditation groups as behavioral and mental health prevention bulwarks in the inner-city, where the real work needs to be done. Linking the meditation groups with classes on Eastern religion could be a big draw for young people and inspire more participation.
Any of these programs could be implemented with a minimal amount of funding; all that is required is a somewhat experienced meditation practitioner and accommodations for comfortable seating. But the benefits for those suffering the effects of antisocial behavior in our nation’s ailing communities near the precipice could be life-saving.
Read more from Vognar on using meditation to combat inner-city violence here.