Christian Meditation in Trinidad & Tobago schools

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Meditation in schools in Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is a small twin island state in the Caribbean.  We have a population of 1,400,000. Our school system consists of both denominational schools which are assisted by Government funding; private denominational schools where parents pay school fees and schools funded entirely by the government. 

Prior to 2016 both Sr Ruth and Judy Mc Sween did training and implementation in some of the private Catholic schools.

During Fr Laurence’s visit in 2016, he introduced Christian Meditation to principals and teachers of Catholic schools (one of them I also attended). After this, I was asked by Sr Ruth to introduce Christian meditation to the Catholic schools which are assisted by Government funding. This consisted of the 118 primary schools and 7 Secondary schools  which are managed by the Catholic Education Board (CEBM). 

Introducing Christian meditation in schools: How we did it

We did so in two sessions.  In the first session, meditation was introduced to the principal and teachers in a simple format:

  1. Meditation as contemplative prayer; 
  2. How to Meditate – posture; breathe; stillness, silence and simplicity; 
  3. A short Meditation with the staff; 
  4. Feedback/questions 
  5. Benefits and Fruit of Meditation; 
  6. Implementation options for the school.

During the second session, we introduced Christian meditation to the students.

“I was about to lose my temper with my sister, but I remembered “maranatha” and I stopped and meditated then I was able to have a decent conversation with her.”
Pupil from one of the schools

Our first school

The principal was truly motivated to have something to “help with the behaviour of the children”. After implementation in her school, she told the principal of the boys school next door about meditation and made an appointment. And just like that, we had two schools practising Christian meditation daily. 

By the end of 2016, however, I had only delivered the Introductory Training to five schools only, two of which were actually practicing meditation. Another seven schools promised appointments but never made them. These were schools that I actually got to speak with the principal, whilst others I called simply took my info and did not call back.

I get into less fights. (self-control – fruit of the Holy Spirit)
Pupil from one of the schools

How we coped during Covid

In 2017 Bishop Charles Jason Gordon installed as the new Archbishop of Port-of-Spain. Thanks to the help of a fellow meditator Anne, we were able to approach more schools. Then Covid came in 2020, All schools went online. No meditation training or practice happened during “the shutdown”.

Prior to Covid, we had completed teacher training in 44 schools, but only 24 were practicing meditation with their students. Principals weren’t really making it a priority.

When schools reopened in September 2022, I called the 24  schools where training had already been done to find out what was happening with Christian meditation in their schools. I thought at the time we would have to “begin again” with training and implementation. But to my delight they had begun their contemplative practices again. 

Some of the comments from the teachers were “Oh Yes Christian meditation, we practice every morning.” “ Thank you for introducing Christian meditation to us. We do not know what we would do without it.”

We had to complete any outstanding appointments we were not able to fulfil because of the shutdown. To do this we needed more people to be Facilitators. So we formed a Facilitators Group and invited 3 additional persons into the group, Betty Ann, Debbie and Cindy. 

What we also discovered when we began contacting schools was that some Principals who attended Fr Laurence’s session in 2015, went back to their school and implemented Christian Meditation in their schools.

Standard 4 & 5 teachers had  introduced meditation to their examination classes.

Other Principals implemented CM in their schools from Archbishop Jason meditating with them whenever he had their Teacher meetings.

I get more sums right (calm, attention, logical thinking)
Pupil from one of the schools

Our swift transition into the digital world

Archbishop Jason gave us a deadline – he wanted all primary schools to be practising meditation by June 2023.

The CEBM also announced that they hired Kathleen Warner-Lall, a former principal and meditator, to act as the  Liaison Officer between the Board and the WCCM.  She assisted us with booking appointments and dealing with any problems we encountered. This was a huge help. But  from September to December 2022, we had only done  training and implementation in 6 schools. It was slow going. And we were looking at possibly another year to complete all the schools. 

We determined that we could only meet the Archbishop’s deadline if we provided training online, using Zoom. The Archdiocese agreed to use their Zoom, which facilitated up to 1,000 persons. We did 4 sessions over a two-day period. They took care of the technical aspects and printed the attendance reports for us. At the end we had 9 schools left. We were able to complete all schools in early May 2023.

Some wonderful feedback

When I asked the children how meditation makes you feel, they said things like – like when my Grandma hugs me; like when I see a beautiful sunset; like when I see a Christmas tree with all the lights on; like when I see a big full moon. 

At one school the teacher told us he was late for class one day and his students reminded him that he was late for meditation.

Generally, Principals noted improved behaviour, less disciplinary problems, students being more attentive in class, that the whole tone of the school had changed- reduced noise, friendlier atmosphere. 

One principal noted that the noise level dropped so much, the people in the surrounding buildings called to school to ask if there was anything wrong? Why weren’t your students coming to school?

Embracing Change: Emerging Stronger.
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Help us continue spread the gift of meditation globally.

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8 thoughts on “Christian Meditation in Trinidad & Tobago schools”

  1. Well done Sandee. So glad to hear of your work and its success with children. Such a blessing. I remember you well from our meeting at Bonnevaux. I’m not having any success here in Ballarat Victoria but it’s had a different history.
    All love and peace xx Kerry James

  2. Sandee Bengochea

    Thank you so much Kerry. I remember you well 😊. Actually Pat Howai is our schools’ coordinator and this piece was written by her. She does amazing work here in the Caribbean

  3. Excellent work everyone!! If all children were taught to meditate and encouraged to practice everyday, the world would be in such a better state! It’s such an empowering and harmonizing gift to share isn’t it!

  4. Anne Breirem Jacobsen

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I loved to read it. Especially the childrens comments. Thank you.

  5. Fergal Redmond

    Hi Sandee,
    Greetings from the Diocese of Kingstown.
    The article above brought bought back many pleasant memories of your visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2019 with Judy and Pat. While accompanying the three of you around the island to different venues, I distinctly recall being amazed at how the children in junior school had adapted to the exercise. It was so impressive to witness their dedicated involvement at such a young age.
    God’s continued blessing on the three of you and the work you so willing undertake.

    Fergal (‘blowdehorn’)

    1. Sandee Bengochea

      What a pleasure to hear from you! Yes, I remember well! We worked hard in SVG but it was a beautiful experience and we made friends for life. It is always a blessing to work with the children. Hopefully, we will see each other soon, In the meantime ‘blowdehorn man, blowdehorn’! 🙂 lol

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