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Mindful or Mindless? Ready, Set, Breathe: A Mindful Approach to Teaching and Learning

Mindful or Mindless? Ready, Set, Breathe: A Mindful Approach to Teaching and Learning

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The latest buzzword in the educational field is “Mindfulness”. But what exactly is mindfulness and how does it relate to teaching?  Mindfulness has been defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness in the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
Mindfulness does not necessarily mean meditation; instead, it encourages us to live our lives in the present by eating, talking, driving, and doing all these everyday activities mindfully. We do not necessarily need a quiet place or blank mind to be mindful. It is for this reason that experts are raving about this innovative therapeutic technique which seems like an impossible task in our multitasking era.

Studies involving mindfulness have demonstrated that a mindful practice in the classroom has proven to improve the following areas:
• Increases attention and focus levels: resulting in higher academic achievement.
• Reduces stress:  allowing students to learn more and perform successfully.
• Improves impulse and emotional control: increasing teaching time in the classroom, teaching children to “respond” rather than “react.”
• Increases self-awareness and self-acceptance: boosting children’s self-esteem.
• Develops compassion and sense of empathy: fostering a positive culture of happier schools.

Today, students are facing a lot of pressure, confronted with more stress, anxiety and bullying than ever before. The sudden norm of doing more, achieving more and being involved in numerous activities has resulted in students not being able to focus on one single task. Incorporating mindfulness as a parenting strategy can also produce amazing results, especially with homework, which is often a struggle between parent and child.

How can teachers, parents and students use mindful techniques to tackle the educational pressure? Here are some simple ways to both explain and introduce mindful practices into your daily life.
Teachers: Select a mindful object, it can be a stuffed animal like a teddy bear. Have a discussion with your class about being mindful with those around us and have them select a name for this object. Pass it around and let each child feel the object with their eyes closed, let them express their emotions by using this object. It may be by hugging it, talking to it, holding its hand, or even singing to it. This mindful object should represent calmness and students can use it to refocus when needed throughout the school day. Then have them open their eyes and ask them to release their emotions to the air and begin to blow bubbles. Remind them that they can always practice turning their thoughts into bubbles if they are upset or sad.  

Parents: Create a mindful homework setting for your children, a place where they can truly concentrate. Remember that each of your children may require something different, one might need a darker and quieter space, while the others might enjoy music and lots of light. Choose the right parent for homework supervision, the calmest with the most patience would be the best choice. Have a bell in the homework area and from time to time ring it; every time it rings, take a deep breath with your child. You can use the bell whenever you see your child needs to refocus or take a break.  

Students: Simple and easy as breathing! Before even starting homework, first begin with a short practice of relaxation and give yourself an opportunity to put your practice into action. This exercise can take 3-5 minutes, and you may use guided meditation exercises or simply put on relaxing music and breathe deeply before you begin.

These are just a couple of the endless ways to practice mindful exercises. Put these to practice and help your children build strength of mind. The mindfulness breakthrough approach strengthens fundamental learning skills resulting in focused and relaxed students and a positive culture in schools. Let’s help raise mindful children rather than mindless students!

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Haz clic para leer en Español: ¿Mindfulness o Atención Plena? La Atención Plena Hacia el Proceso de Aprendizaje

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