Administrators at Bullard Elementary School in Kennesaw, Georgia, have had to change elements of its yoga and mindfulness practices after parents protested that their children were being corrupted by evil non-Christian beliefs.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that school administrators and parents met recently to discuss some very, very unfounded concerns parents had over the school’s incorporation of meditative practices. From an email sent to parents by principal Patrice Moore:
I am truly sorry that the mindfulness/ de-stressing practices here at Bullard caused many misconceptions that in turn created a distraction in our school and community. While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years, there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some.
Although teachers have never used nor taught about crystals having healing powers during these breaks, we understand it has become a belief. Therefore we will ensure that nothing resembling this will be done in the future.
The school will discontinue their use of the Sanskrit greeting “namaste” and placing hands “to heart center,” and students will no longer color in mandala symbols.
“Some don’t even say the pledge, yet they’re pushing ideology on our students,” one mom told NBC affiliate WXIA. “Some of those things are religious practices that we don’t want our children doing in our schools.”
The Washington Post reports that another parent wrote on Facebook, “Now we can’t pray in our schools or practice Christianity but they are allowing this Far East mystical religion with crystals and chants to be practiced under the guise of stress release meditation. This is very scary.” The post appears to have been removed, but according to the Post, it directed people to “google ‘mindfulness indoctrination.’”
The passionate arm-flapping here would be insane even if this stuff hadn’t been stateside for a million years, but the practice of yoga and the concept of mindfulness have been so fully coopted by western culture that companies like Ford and General Mills offer programs to employees, prompting controversies all the way down on the other end of the spectrum like colleges discontinuing yoga classes because of “colonialism and western supremacy.”
“Mindfulness” is a vague and overused term, but meditative practices have been widely found to have very positive effects on the brain and one’s ability to regulate stress, and in recent test-heavy years some schools have started to utilize these techniques. “It’s a way to get children aware of their breath patterns, their tendencies and habits,” yoga instructor Cheryl Crawford told the Journal-Constitution.
It’s also probably a great way for xenophobic conspiracy theorists to tackle their generalized paranoia, but oh well!
Image via USA/Eat, Pray, Love.