Mindfulness in the Classroom: Inspirational Resources
Mindful. The word is everywhere. We all want to be mindful, aware, in the moment, present. Nobody wants to live life mindlessly.
Mindfulness is a state of "active, open awareness to the present. It is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment."
Though it has roots in Buddhist mediation, the secular practice of mindfulness entered the American mainstream in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which was launched back in 1979.
Since then, the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness have been well documented.
According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, teaching mindfulness in the classroom and at home:
- Reduces behavior problems and aggression
- Improves happiness
- Increases attention
- Fosters compassion and empathy
- Helps students and teachers (and parents!) cope with stress
Are those not all things we want as parents and teachers?
Starting a mindfulness practice at home or at school begins with... what you're already doing! You don't need bells and whistles and meditation cushions. “Start where you are,” as they say. Start with the breath.
Breathing is the simplest and most grounding thing we do all day that we don't pay attention to.
Have students focus on their breathing for five minutes at the start of class. Families can also do this together before the kids dash for the school bus. Here's how (and why) it works.
For more ideas on incorporating mindfulness into your classroom or home routine, try the following:
- Watch Kabat-Zinn speak on The Healing Power Mindfulness
- Watch Nurturing Mindfulness In Families, Schools, and Youth
- Read Learning to Breathe: A Mindfulness Curriculum for Adolescents to Cultivate Emotion Regulation, Attention, and Performance
- Read When Mindfulness Meets The Classroom
- Listen to a wonderful and warm-hearted Metta or Lovingkindness Meditation from veteran mindfulness teacher Sylvia Boorstein