Over 400 girls at the Dhammajarinee Witthaya Buddhist boarding school in Thailand are now practicing Transcendental Meditation as part of their curriculum.
Dhammajarinee Witthaya school is a very special school – it is the first and only educational institution in Thailand where poor or orphaned girls can get free education from kindergarten to grade 12.
The difficult, troubled past of the students was one of the main reasons for including Transcendental Meditation in the daily routine, alongside modern academic subjects and basic Buddhist teachings.
Kru Maew, a teacher at the Dhammajarinee Witthaya boarding school, says: “Our school is the first school in Thailand that incorporates the Transcendental Meditation technique to culture the students’ ethical values. The students in this school learn TM at the beginning of the semester when the new students arrive.”
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The firm basis of inner calm, balance, and wisdom gives the girls a good chance to turn the tables on their troubled childhood and become valuable members and leaders of their communities.
The principal of the school, Buddhist nun Acharn Yai says:
“These girls come from different provinces all over Thailand. They come from poor families, broken homes, or are orphans. Some have been violently abused or are at risk of being sexually abused.
The school provides all students with free education. Everything is free: clothing, personal items, and school supplies. We currently have 430 students enrolled.”
Gender inequality is still a big issue in Thailand, with girls from poorer areas being especially vulnerable to AIDS, drug abuse, violence, exploitation, and illiteracy. The lack of educational opportunities in turn contributes significantly to the persistence of this pattern of despondency in future generations.
“Coming from different places, the girls’ behavior was quite aggressive and they didn’t pay attention to their studies that much. But after we introduced Transcendental Meditation and after they started practicing, I feel that now some students are more settled and some pay more attention to their studies,” tells Kru Maew, a teacher at the school.
“Their aggressive behavior decreases, their grades go up; they pay more attention to whatever we teach them. When they have inner happiness, they soak up whatever knowledge we give, unlike before.”