Mindfulness is a way of focusing on what is happening in a non-judgmental way. It guides people to be more self-aware and less reactive to triggers or negative situations. Moreover, being mindful includes making intentional choices to pay attention to events as they unfold, acting with awareness, withholding appraisal, and practicing non-reactivity.
According to Mindful, teaching this practice equips people with the tools to develop self-control, build self-esteem, manage stress, and skillfully approach challenges. As a self-control strategy, mindfulness helps the practitioner better tolerate emotions like happiness, amusement, surprise, envy, jealousy, sadness, awe, and more. This training invites individuals to identify each feeling as it happens.
As a result, handling emotions non-judgementally allows individuals to identify and accept their feelings. However, the objective is to pause, not act on the feeling, and refocus.
Mindfulness in the Classroom
The American University reported: 83% of students who used mindfulness practices revealed improved focus.
For example, Berkeley University’s Greater Good Science Center reported their observations of a fourth-grade classroom using mindfulness at Crockett Elementary School in Phoenix. Teachers use refocusing techniques when moving from one subject to another.
The students worked quietly as they focused on an art project as the day began. “Then, to transition to their science lesson, [the teacher] has them close their eyes and count backward wither her from 10.” Once refocused, they begin the challenging lesson by reading aloud. “Next, the class transitions to working in pairs, applying the technical knowledge they’ve learned…but a collective frustration and restlessness arises.”
As a result, a few students raised their fists in the air. This tells the teacher they need to take a “mindful moment.” After one of them tells the teacher that the class needs to refocus, she has everyone stop and take several deep breaths before returning to their work.
The observers noted that these students are strong performers in science on state-wide tests despite the community’s multiple systemic challenges and stressors. Teaching mindful approaches helps the classroom function effectively. Mindfulness helps the kids to “self-regulate emotions,” which allows teachers to manage difficulties that affect classroom dynamics.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Greater Good: How Mindfulness Can Help Create Calmer Classrooms; by Danah Henriksen, Natalie Gruber, and Lauren J. Woo
Mindful: Mindfulness for Kids
Psychology Today: 7 Lessons in Self-Control We Can Learn From Mindfulness; by Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D.