Since Time Magazine announced the "Mindful Revolution" in 2014, there has been a large emphasis on being mindful. But the term mindfulness can be a fairly confusing term since it is so commonly used. You (and your kids) might hear things like be mindful of your surroundings, be mindful of what you say, that wasn't very mindful, and other phrases that don't quite convey the fullness of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness refers to a set of practices, habits of mind, as well as a way of being in life. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who many call the father of mindfulness and created Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, explains “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. It's about knowing what is on your mind.”
Student Friendly Definition
We also like the definition Dr. Amy Saltzman offers in her book, A Still Quiet Place. She describes mindfulness as “paying attention to your life here and now with kindness and curiosity.” We like to use that definition with students by breaking down each clause and exploring them.
In other words, what does it mean to:
* pay attention
* pay attention to your life
* pay attention to your life here and now
* Pay attention to your life here and now with kindness and curiosity
Most students like taking their time exploring each of those questions. You can start by describing what paying attention is and scaffold to how that act of bringing awareness with kindness and curiosity supports compassion. By exploring the definition together, it helps to build consensus and community.
The Five Element Methodology
Little Flower Yoga, the organization that helped us develop our mindfulness course, explores mindfulness by using a five element methodology. The mindfulness activities offered to students help them CONNECT, BREATHE, MOVE, FOCUS, and RELAX. These pathways to mindfulness help support social-emotional learning, relationship building, learning readiness, and self-awareness.
Connect: Mindfulness practices to connect to yourself, the world around you, and your community
Breathe: Harness the power of the breath to manage emotional and energetic states.
Move: Improve physical health and increase confidence, and enhance executive function.
Focus: Increase capacity to pay attention and focus on the task at hand.
Relax: Restore alertness, manage over-stimulation, improve sleep quality.
How Does Mindfulness Support Students?
Schoberlein, in her book Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness explains the benefits of
- Supports “readiness to learn.”
- Promotes academic performance.
- Strengthens attention and concentration.
- Reduces anxiety before testing.
- Promotes self-reflection and self-calming.
- Improves classroom participation by supporting impulse control.
- Provides tools to reduce stress.
- Enhances social and emotional learning.
- Fosters pro-social behaviors and healthy relationships.
- Supports holistic well-being
These are just some of the ways that that mindfulness can support students. Most students say that mindfulness simply helps them slow down and catch their breath, and that makes all the difference to them.
We hope you’ll explore the different ways mindfulness practice can support you this upcoming school year. Send us a message on our Facebook with your ideas! We are excited to hear how you incorporate mindfulness into your classroom.
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