Mindfulness in Education

I've just completed twelve weeks of training in mindfulness for children from Mindful Schools, and have studied the science, techniques and benefits of including mindfulness in a practice that treats people with learning disabilities, trauma, or anxiety.  In fact it can benefit any one, and the research supporting its benefits is becoming more plentiful and compelling.

Mindfulness is a state of awareness of the present moment, an non-judgmental presence with your own thoughts, feelings, and physical being.  The techniques are simple: mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the breath, mindfulness of sensation, feeling, and thoughts without getting caught up in the stories we tell ourselves about them.  It is a way of letting go of the tendency to get caught in the past or the future, and to simply be with oneself without judgment in the present.

A wonderful byproduct of mindfulness is changes in the regulation of the nervous system, and sometimes that translates into greater calm. The goal is not to be calm, per se, but to be able to respond rather than react to stimuli.

I find this invaluable as I treat my clients, for whom I have high hopes at times, certain goals at all times, and worries for at times, too.  As I can be more present with my clients, so they, too, can be more present with themselves.  They can become less reactive to the shame or anxiety that being misunderstood has caused them, they can become more able to embrace changes in their habits of mind and their study skills, and more able to embrace a self-concept that helps them learn rather than hinders them.

The New York Times has covered the subject of mindfulness recently, and I have joined the group Mindful Harlem to further my own practice.  I hope you will look into this powerful meditation practice, too.