April is Stress Awareness Month highlighting the impact of stress on physical and mental health.
Transcendental Meditation (TM), as founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is an easy, natural antidote to stress validated by an extensive body of scientifically proven research.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health cases in 2020/21. The World Health Organisation has recently redefined burnout as a ‘syndrome linked to chronic work stress that has not been successfully managed’.
“In school teaching, the stress is the killer—once you let it get on top of you, everything can go downhill frighteningly fast. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of colleagues,” said Francis Chalmers, associate lecturer in mathematics at the Open University. “During my 17 years as a secondary mathematics teacher, I was often really busy, but I never felt overwhelmed. I put this down to practising TM twice a day.”
FRIENDS, a two-year EU-funded project implementing the Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation (QT/TM) programme in educational settings with a high proportion of disadvantaged students in Italy, Portugal, Belgium and the UK, revealed decreased stress, anxiety and burnout in teachers.
Findings showed that after learning QT/TM, there was a decrease in stress, anxiety and burnout, while job satisfaction, optimism, and wellbeing increased
A total of 1,800 students and learners, 900 teachers, and 200 parents took part in the project to foster resilience, inclusive education and non-discrimination in schools. Participants were trained in the QT/TM programme, which adds 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the school day. During that time, they practise the simple, natural Transcendental Meditation technique to achieve a state of profound rest physically and inner calm and alertness mentally.
Analysis of the project by the University of Algarve and Bologna University included a survey of 241 adults, teachers and staff across schools in Italy, Portugal, Belgium and the UK. Findings showed that after learning QT/TM, there was a decrease in stress, anxiety and burnout, while job satisfaction, optimism, and wellbeing increased.
In the UK, seven Alternative Provision Schools (APS) in Lancashire, Stoke on Trent, Liverpool and Essex took part, as well as a primary school, secondary school and community sports group.
Phil Davis, head teacher at Heybridge Co-operative Academy, said: “When I was first approached about TM, I was reasonably sceptical about it, because I didn’t have a great understanding of the impact it would make, and now I can see the benefit both personally and with our students. My family will tell you that I’m much calmer in the way that I deal with things.”
The study also showed significant benefits of QT/TM for students, including increased resilience, vitality, less disruptive behaviour and better academic achievement.
Philomena Cozens, CEO of Keys Co-operative Academy Trust, said: “It’s noticeable when people come to visit, the calm nature of the school, particularly as this is a school for children who have lost their place in mainstream school, generally because of their behaviour.”
Maharishi Foundation provided the TM training for participating students, staff and parents in the UK and administration for the project. Please see www.uk.tm.org to find out more about TM and www.friends-project.eu for the FRIENDS project.