Last night I heard a conversation on NPR with a teacher and a researcher who discussed the use of mindfulness and meditation in the classroom. They talked about the immense benefits of doing so – behavioral as well as academic.

Of course it makes intuitive sense. So maybe I was primed this morning when I volunteered in my first grader’s class. Each morning his teacher begins with meditation. It’s difficult to imagine squirrely 6 and 7 year olds staying silent for any length of time, but nonetheless, the group takes a deep breath and silence cuts the air.

This particular morning, the classroom next door must have experienced something unexpected because a round of cheers and noise disrupted our meditation. There were a few momentary giggles in our meditation circle, but what amazed me was the ability of these young people to hold their own and stay silent. Even more awesome was the juxtaposition of their silence with the noise in the room next door. To hear the contrast and experience the duality in one single moment brought to my awareness the profound nature of our existence. In any one moment we are silence and noise – or essentially everything if we pause to notice.

This observation followed my interactions with my kids this morning. As with many mornings lately, it was just the three of us, putting more pressure on me to keep them moving forward until everyone is finally buckled in the car. And like many mornings lately, the two of them found cause to argue and then in turn escalate their grievances to me. Each had good reason to be angry with the other and neither could find enough forgiveness to cure the moment. So instead I had them clear within themselves by allowing the meditation – “Even though I am angry at my sister/brother and do not like him/her, I love myself no matter what”. With each round and each breath, there was a visible letting go, until my little one declared he felt better. My deep feeling girl needed a few more meditations until she too let go.

It is that very juxtaposition – love and anger or love and hate and the point at which they co-exist where we find our freedom. Our exhale. I am in the process right now of finding those points in my life where the duality merges. Where neither one nor the other exists and yet both do. The reminders are everywhere as long as I keep my eyes open and my mind soft.

And it is so often my kids who remind me best, which in turn, leaves me struck by the fact that they are starting now with so many tools, practices and understandings that I didn’t even begin to explore until I was in my 20’s and only truly understand 20 years later. I cannot fathom where they will land at my age given the incredible place from which they are leaping. But I can say it brings me immense hope for the world yet to come. And so I feel a sense of deep gratitude to the teachers who are really pioneers, adding skills perhaps more valuable than math and science, to the deep arsenal that our kids will draw from throughout their lives.

I wonder if at some point maybe mindfulness and meditation will become as common practice as multiplication tables. And when that happens, I’m sure there will be some other conversation on NPR about the most cutting edge practices in a classroom – but for myself, I cannot imagine what they would be, just that the incredible beings we call our kids right now will be the visionaries, teachers and change makers that create them.