Photo by Sam Kalda.
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Since the "Mindful Revolution,"there has been a large emphasis on being mindful. But the term mindfulness can be confusing since it is so commonly used. You (and your kids) might hear things like be mindful of your surroundings, be mindful of what you say, that wasn't very mindful, and other phrases that don't quite convey the fullness of mindfulness.
Mindfulness refers to a set of practices, habits of mind, as well as a way of being in life. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who many call the father of mindfulness and created Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, explains “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally…. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
We also like the definition Dr. Amy Saltzman offers in her book, “A Still Quiet Place.” She describes mindfulness as “paying attention to your life here and now with kindness and curiosity.” We like to use that definition with students by breaking down each clause and exploring them.
In other words what does it mean to:
We find that most students (and adults) we work with like taking their time exploring each of those questions. We explore by describing what paying attention is and build up to how that act of bringing awareness with kindness and curiosity supports compassion. And by exploring the definition together, it helps to build consensus around what mindfulness is and the habit of minds one engages in when being mindful.
Little Flower Yoga explores these habits of mind by using a five element methodology. The mindfulness activities we offer our students help them CONNECT, BREATHE, MOVE, FOCUS, and RELAX. These pathways to mindfulness help us support social-emitonal learning, relationship building, learning readiness, and self awareness.
But how exactly does that support us?
Schoberlein, in her book "Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness" explains:
BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS FOR TEACHERS:
• Improves focus and awareness.
• Increases responsiveness to students’ needs.
• Promotes emotional balance.
• Supports stress management and stress reduction.
• Supports healthy relationships at work and home.
• Enhances classroom climate.
• Supports overall well-being.
• Supports “readiness to learn.”
• Promotes academic performance.
• Strengthens attention and concentration.
• Reduces anxiety before testing.
• Promotes self-reflection and self-calming.
• Improves classroom participation by supporting impulse control.
• Provides tools to reduce stress.
• Enhances social and emotional learning.
• Fosters pro-socialbehaviors and healthyrelationships.
• Supports holistic well-being.
"Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness" explains some of the ways mindfulness can support you and your students. What we hear most adults and students say is mindfulness simply helps them slow down and catch their breath, and that makes all the difference to them."
This article is part of our Mindful Mondays initiative. Receive weekly emails with instructions for the practices of the week, links to guided practices, and suggestions for implementation by registering. The program is free for all. Sign up now to access this week's recorded practices for you and your students!
ABOUT ARGOS GONZALEZ:
Argos Gonzalez is a teacher, lecturer, and mindfulness and yoga instructor. He has 13 years of experience teaching high school in the Bronx and teaches pre-service and in-service teachers at Hunter College School of Education in NY. Argos is certified through both Mindful Schools and Little Flower Yoga (LFY), and currently serves as the director of professional development for The School Yoga Project, a program of LFY.
Contact Argos by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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