State directive to all schools says that each student must meditate for 10 minutes before classes to make them disciplined and calm and avoid stress, violence and drugs.

Now before you start your school day, you will have something to soothe your wrought nerves: good old oxygen. The state government has decided to introduce classes of breathing exercises in all schools across the state, so students are better able to fight stress and stay fit mentally.

Stay fit: The state government has decided to introduce classes of
breathing exercises in all schools across the state, so students are better
able to fight stress and stay fit mentally. Representation Pic

As per a circular issued by state Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad on October 5 to the directors of primary, secondary and higher secondary education in the state, soon after the assembly, students will have 10 minutes of meditation compulsory before starting classes. "It helps positive thinking and concentration," says the directive, and goes on to add a list of measures to be adopted by private and municipal schools across the state. It doesn't specify a date to begin the regimen.

To this end, schools would be required to send one of their teachers to the Vipassana research institute, a meditation centre in Igatpuri, so they may acquire meditation and breathing techniques and return to impart them to students. "It is important for the teacher to complete a 10-day course of the Vipassana sadhana before teaching students," the directive says. 

It will help children to deal with examination stress, tension, and other ailments plaguing modern lifestyle, the circular says.

Though welcomed by most, some schools feel that it should be made optional. Dr Zahir Kazi, president, Anjuman Islam Trust, under whom 20 schools and 90 other institutes run, said, "Schools like ours should be given a choice whether to introduce it or not. Some may perceive it as going against the fundamentals of their faith, and that could create a problem."

Amol Dhamdhere, secretary of Indian Education Society, said, "We appreciate the idea, but to add this in timetable we will have to increase school hours. And the government should make arrangement for teachers to go for the meditation training in Igatpuri."

Indra Menon, vice-principal, Children's Academy, Malad, said, "It may not be practically possible to send teachers for 14 days to Igatpuri for Vipassana training." 

Despite MiD DAY's repeated calls and messages, Ujjwala Patil, chairperson of the state board, remained unavailable for comment.

Fact file
The circular states that the meditation/breathing exercise helps school going children in self-discipline, attentiveness, memory enhancement, decision making, self confidence, reduces fear, anger and discontent and increases efficiency that ensures participation in extra curricular activities.
It also helps students to be aloof from violence, pilfering, lying, sexual abuse and drugs, in the first phase. In the second phase, students concentrate on breathing exercise and in the third phase they try to share their experiences and benefits of it among their friends.

Certain guidelines for schools from the education department:
>> In a year, this anapana and vipassana sadhana (breathing routines) should be arranged for five to six hours in the school playground for 50 to 100 students.

>> The school should make the arrangement of a school auditorium or classrooms

>> They should arrange for mikes and loudspeakers, mattresses to sit on ground, light food

>> All employees of the education department should visit the Vipassana Research Institute, Dhammgiri, Igatpuri, Nasik for 10-day workshop