The Benefits of Mindfulness in Education
“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will.” William James, Father of American Psychology
Mindfulness helps you be more aware, trains your attention and makes you focus on what is actually happening rather than worrying about the past or what might happen in the future.
Practicing mindfulness has been proven to give both mental and physical benefits such as decreasing anxiety, improving cognition and even increases people's satisfaction in themselves. It is such a crucial life skill, but is sadly missing from school curriculums across the UK.
It is now common for businesses such as law firms and big tech companies like Google to train their staff in this ancient practice. They have seen results as their workforce becomes more collaborative and it has even reduced implicit race and age bias! So why not start earlier and make it mandatory to teach in schools.
Mindfulness training in our education system could be a route to enhance children’s emotional well-being and so impact the health and happiness of future society. The development and implementation of mindfulness-based interventions in schools could create enhanced learning and boost self-esteem, in a cost-effective manner.
Some schools are starting to use mindfulness practices in childhood education, with results showing it encourages the development of self-regulation abilities, essential for academic accomplishment and emotional wellbeing. Some teachers are also being trained to use mindfulness to improve leadership and reduce stress. This is a positive step forward, but it still means not all children across the country are able to access these techniques.
If mindfulness was taught in all schools it would have a profoundly positive effect on society. Teaching a technique which initiates self-knowledge and compassion must be an overall positive move. Mindfulness has the potential to help create future leaders, artists, visionaries, scientists and teachers that have compassion, interconnectedness and better mental health.
It’s great to see charities like the Mindfulness in Schools Project offering certified resources and training for teachers. It’s also exciting to see that the government is taking this seriously, announcing last year that 370 schools in England would be conducting mindfulness lessons until 2021, in one of the biggest mental health trials ever done by the government. Hopefully once the benefits of this trial are realised it will be rolled out across the whole of the UK to benefit all children.
What mindfulness isn’t:
Clearing your mind: It’s not about freedom from thinking, but rather freedom with thinking, so you can use your thoughts more skillfully
Having a relax: It’s not about chilling out, rather learning the skill of noticing what is going on in your mind and body, is it anger, happiness, discomfort? Once you notice these things you have the power to choose how you respond
Praying: Contemplation and silence are important in faith and spirituality, but mindfulness is more about using the space to appreciate the moment and how cool it is to be human!
What mindfulness is:
Stopping and noticing: Step back from the chatter and busyness of the mind and have a space for clear thinking to help make choices that support your wellbeing
Training your awareness: Learn to direct your attention to the present, this means we can respond more skilfully to whatever life throws our way!
Evidence based: From brain imaging scans to population studies, the benefits of mindfulness are scientifically proven. It is also endorsed by the National Health Service, GPs can refer adults to mindfulness courses to help treat depression.