Film & Discussion: Room to Breathe
Room To Breathe is a surprising story of transformation of struggling children in a San Francisco public middle school as they are introduced to the practice of mindfulness meditation.
The film focuses on four troubled children in Marina Middle School in San Francisco: an African American boy trying to cope with his brother's murder; a highly social Latino girl with no interest in academics; a tough and disruptive Latino girl who is frequently in trouble with school administrators; and a defiant Latino boy who sees himself as unfairly persecuted by his primary teacher and other school officials. The film shows chaos in the classroom - children fooling around, shoving, and yelling.
How can teachers help these children develop the social, emotional, and attentional skills they need to succeed in and out of the classroom? Instead of just forcing the children to listen, the school administrators decide to experiment with "mindfulness," a new program in self-reflection that is being introduced to a handful of public schools across the nation.
While the mindfulness instructor's efforts are initially met with defiance, contempt for authority figures, and poor discipline, the teacher from Berkeley helps the four children and their classmates take greater control over themselves. A new sense of calm begins to permeate their worlds, in class and at home.
The root of the children's problems may be unique to each person, but the practice of mindfulness meditation has positive influence on all of them. Room To Breathe is an inspiring film that demonstrates a simple method that appears to have the potential to transform the ways in which children relate to their peers, their teachers, and their world, to reduce violence and bullying, and to create marked improvements in academic performance.