Many of us have noticed a sudden increase in media attention around something called mindfulness. Mindfulness, described by the Oxford Dictionary as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment,” has become something of a buzzword. It is celebrated greatly on the Internet, on social media platforms, and amongst celebrities. Mindfulness has recently trickled into education, too, and enthusiasm for the practice can be found in classrooms across the globe. Schools that have implemented the practice have seen increased self-awareness and empathy amongst their students. They have also experienced other benefits such as increased attention, improved awareness, and self-regulation. It has provided a much-needed sense of optimism to our campuses. Basically, we are seeing happier kids, and who wouldn’t want that!
What does mindfulness in the classroom look like?
Building a classroom that encourages mindfulness starts with providing an environment in which our students can learn, grow, and breathe. Incorporating breathwork into the morning, during transitions, and before taking a big test helps to steady the nervous system, helping students to focus better. Teachers are also providing students with opportunities to stretch, listen to relaxing music, practice yoga, and meditate. These “brain breaks” help to relieve built-up stress and anxiety. Amy Saltzman, M.D., Director of the Association for Mindfulness, explains the concept thus: “Mindfulness is a powerful tool that supports children in calming themselves, focusing their attention, and interacting effectively with others, all critical skills for functioning well in school and in life.”
Next time you or your child is overwhelmed or stressed, take time to slow down, observe how your body is reacting, and, most importantly, breathe.
By Maria Ward, Principal, St. Isidore School