The practice of meditation harkens back to ancient civilizations and has, until recently, been practiced almost exclusively by religious practitioners. The sharing of knowledge between Eastern and Western cultures has expanded the utility of meditation, namely mindfulness meditation, to secular and practical applications.
Mindfulness meditation focuses on the natural rhythm of breathing. This seemingly simple task can be difficult for most beginners to do for more than five to ten seconds at a time. Thoughts often intrude during these moments of quiet, and it is the job of the teacher to guide their students in recognizing and letting go of those thoughts. The goal is to notice the thought as it arises, observe the thought objectively, and then let it go.
Practicing mindfulness has validity in neuroscience and psychology. In the early 1960’s it was scarcely touched by Western researchers. There were only a few publications in scientific journals. Now, there are several thousand publications across several serious scientific journals espousing the benefits of mindfulness including stress reduction, improved mood, and increases in creativity.
Mindfulness when coupled with physical activity such as yoga or stretching can improve the well-being of students and increase engagement. Brief, yet effective mindfulness breaks can be just what a classroom needs to focus pent up energy and get back on track.
Have you tried using mindfulness in your classroom? Let us know in the comments section!