The real meditation is how you live your life.
What is mindfulness?
You may have heard that mindfulness — the ability to be fully present in the moment — can have numerous benefits, everything from decreased stress and sadness to increased levels focus and happiness, according to general mindfulness research. But what exactly is mindfulness? And, how can you recognise it and reap its many benefits? Mindfulness meditation practice is one way to truly experience the current moment and integrate that awareness into your everyday life.
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Today’s educators and students carry so much on their shoulders. Meeting academic and social expectations – and simply growing up and developing a sense of self and belonging – can be tough. Yet the pressures in today’s educational environment reach far beyond these basics. Our world is moving and changing faster than ever.
Anxiety- Nearly 1 in 3 adolescents will meet criteria for an anxietydisorder by the age of 18.
Trauma- 46% of all children have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE).
Distraction_On average, teens spend 5 hours a day on digital entertainment, excluding school work.
Isolation_ Nearly 40% of high school seniors report that they often feel lonely and left out.
Stress- 61% of teachers report being stressed out.
Mental Health-This is an increasing issue in schools today
Burnout- Public school educators are quitting their jobs at the highest rate on record.
Effective teaching of mindfulness is critical to the future of young Australians. Research shows that mindfulness has a profound effect on student and staff well being.
Clarifying setting, and reaffirming intentions.
Cultivating a witnessing awareness
"A growing body of science, including the work of Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child, has found that toxic stress can impede healthy development, literally changing children’s brains and affecting their capacity to absorb even the best instruction."
former president American Academy of Pediatrics
“When you work with children, it’s really easy to ignore our own needs,” said Brown. “Mindfulness has given me a greater sense of balance and calm, which is a benefit to the other people around me.”
former president American Academy of Pediatrics
“My practice is always evolving, and the kids I work with know that sometimes I need to stop and take a minute for myself,” said Waugh. While it’s a little trickier teaching high school kids, Waugh says they are respectful and know they don’t have to participate but they need to cooperate. “They’ll tell me they know it helps them, on the sports field or remembering lines in a play, and I’m glad they have a skill for when they just want to have a little space.”
Math Teacher & Wellness Coordinator
These findings are indeed backed up by research; a 2015 study on mindfulness education in schools found that: Mindfulness helps students and staff manage their stress more effectively and work through it more quickly.
Frequent mindfulness practice—even micro-sessions of a few minutes or less—imparts health benefits.
Research suggests that mindfulness programs can improve cognitive performance as well as resilience to stress.
Mindfulness programs are easily developed and adapted for specific ages and contexts.
It is relatively easy to incorporate mindfulness into schools, provided there is sensitivity to the developmental stages and needs of the students (Bostic, Nevarez, Potter, Prince, Benningfield, & Aguirre, 2015).
Further, a review by Erica Baxter (n.d.) found that mindfulness has proven to help children and adolescents with:
Reducing their anxiety.
Helping them reduce and/or manage their stress.
Improving their attention and ability to focus.
Managing their emotion reactivity.
Increasing their self-awareness and self-regulation.
Helping them find peace.
Encouraging their ability to calm themselves and regulate their emotions.
Improving their executive function and higher-order abilities (i.e., planning, strategic thinking).
Decreasing their test anxiety through enhancing memory and concentration, and reducing mind-wandering/daydreaming.
Mitigating or reducing ADHD symptoms.
What Does a Mindfulness Curriculum Include?
A mindfulness curriculum generally includes mindfulness content delivered in short weekly (or more frequent) sessions that involves both the principles of mindfulness and the practice of mindfulness.
Depending on the specific school and the program they choose, the curriculum may include information on important concepts and definitions (e.g., awareness, acceptance, mindfulness, meditation), exercises (e.g., the body scan, mindful breathing, mindful awareness of the senses), and other mindfulness content that can be used by students in class or at home (e.g., guided meditations, relaxation imagery, written instructions, videos).
Why teach mindfulness?
1) Kids are stressed.
1 in 4 children suffer from Anxiety Disorders. (National Institutes of Health)
1 in 5 children suffers from a mental health or learning disorder, and 80% of chronic mental disorders begin in childhood. (Child Mind Institute)
2) Teachers are stressed.
According to research, most teachers experience job stress at least two to four times a day, with more than 75% of teachers’ health problems attributed to stress. (National Education Association)
The Benefits of mindfulness
Start with teachers. Teachers are the vehicle for integrating change into a school’s culture. Is there a teacher who already has a mindfulness practice, and is willing to champion the effort to bring mindfulness into your child’s school? If not, are there teachers willing to learn more about the benefits of mindfulness for themselves, as well as their students?
Know the science. The research on teaching mindfulness to children is only in its beginning stages, yet there are studies that show its impact on both the body and the brain. Scientific evidence is an important component for bringing administrators and faculty to embrace your plan.
A few key studies:
A 2016 study in Frontiers in Psychology measured emotional well-being of 7- to 9-year-olds and found that a school-based mindfulness program improves higher-order thinking, and helps students become more engaged, positive learners.
A randomised controlled study in the Journal of School Psychology on more than 100 6th grade students found those who completed classroom-based, teacher-implemented mindfulness meditation were significantly less likely to develop suicidal ideation or thoughts of self-harm than the control groups.
A study of 4th and 5th graders published in Developmental Psychology found that students who received mindfulness training improved their cognitive ability and stress physiology, reported greater empathy, perspective-taking, emotional control, and optimism, showed greater decreases in self-reported symptoms of depression and peer-rated aggression, and were more popular.
For specific ideas on what to include in a mindfulness curriculum, speak to one of our reps: 1300 122 804