What is Mindfulness, and How Can It Be Applied in the Classroom?

  • admin
  • 2022-12-03
  • 4 min read
What is Mindfulness, and How Can It Be Applied in the Classroom?

Feelings of loneliness and anxiety are common among children and young adults in today’s digitally charged times. Factors such as too much access to social media, messaging apps, and online games have been blamed for these emotions. In today’s times, children need greater alignment with their goals to live a fulfilling life free of distractions and anxieties. Exposure to mindfulness in the classroom can be transformative for children and teens.

Several studies indicate that inculcating mindfulness at a young age positively affects psychological health. It raises self-esteem, empathy, a sense of autonomy, competence, and vitality. This blog explores practical exercises to help build the foundation of mindfulness in children.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice that originates from Buddhist teachings. It is a state of being where we intentionally bring our attention to the present moment and are completely aware of our surroundings. We are connected to our feelings and the dynamics of the current moment.

The state of mindfulness is sometimes described as being in ‘witness mode’, where we respond to events as an observer instead of reacting with a lot of emotions.

Spiritual leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh have advocated the concept of mindfulness for years and have written several books on it. Today, many skill development programmes are imparting the technique of mindfulness meditation.

Why is mindfulness in the classroom important?

Inculcating mindfulness in the classroom equips children with the tools and self-awareness to manage their thoughts better. Through these exercises, they will learn how to connect with their emotions better and build healthy relationships with their peers, family, and friends.

Six mindfulness activities for the classroom

Mindfulness techniques can help children and young adults become more productive. Here are six classroom mindfulness activities that easily tie into students’ daily or weekly schedules:

Mindful breathing

Studies show the importance of breathing for relaxation  helps one stay calm and focused in high-stress situations. For instance, deep breathing through the belly has multiple benefits, such as building immunity and stabilising blood pressure. Teaching children the basics of pranayam (a component of yoga that involves regulating the breath) will enable them to develop a superior breathing technique from childhood.

Mindful consumption

In fast-paced routines, a hurried lunch or snack is not uncommon. But this practice can lead to health issues like obesity and stomach ailments. Snack time is an excellent opportunity to introduce healthy eating habits. Teach children the importance of chewing food mindfully, showing gratitude for the food and the creator of the food, and turning meal times into a community exercise.

Expressing gratitude

One of the essential mindfulness exercises is to feel and express gratitude for the people and positive events in our lives. It can be in the form of a physical or digital journal. Children can be encouraged to keep a gratitude journal and record what they feel gratitude for every day. They can also be encouraged to voice their appreciation in front of their classmates. Research indicates that gratitude journalling can result in better mental health and improved sleep within 12 weeks.

Nature walks

Connecting with nature is one of the most elevating mindful exercises. While it is not a classroom exercise, it makes for a great homework experiment. Children can be encouraged to visit a park or garden nearby and observe the trees, birds, and other fauna. Encourage them to put down digital devices during their nature walk and share their experiences in the classroom as a written or oral mindfulness exercise.

Today I feel…

Some adults often find it challenging to identify what they feel: anger, love, resentment, irritation, or self-pity. Encouraging children to be mindful of their feelings at an early age paves the way for healthier engagement with emotions in adulthood. Encourage your children to express themselves using the cue “Today I feel…”. They can do this in writing or say it out loud. As their vocabulary increases, they can express more complex emotions.

Develop a meditation practice

Research states that meditation helps reduce the incidence of negative self-chatter and depression. In addition, learning meditation techniques during childhood helps build a daily meditation practice and, hence, sound mental health . For instance, children can be taught the Tibetan singing bowl meditation, which is known to positively impact mood, reduce tension and improve well-being. Meditating for even five minutes daily can transform an individual’s psychological health. A daily meditation session in school can be an excellent way to foster mindfulness in the classroom.

Classroom mindfulness activities can easily prepare children to face the challenges ahead of them, whether in higher education or competitive workplaces. These activities help children to focus, regulate their emotions and develop problem-solving abilities. Practising mindfulness can help students achieve qualifications via online schooling .

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Mindfulness can be used as a tool to help create an environment of self-awareness, focus, and emotional regulation in classrooms. It can be used as a way for students to manage stress levels, build self-confidence, and foster positive relationships with their peers.

Establishing routines and rituals is one of the best ways to create a mindful classroom – these provide structure that all students can learn from and rely on. It’s also important to emphasize the importance of being present in each moment by having activities that involve mindful listening or silent reflection time for students to practice focusing on their breath or body sensations.

Teaching children mindfulness helps them develop skills in self-regulation and emotional well-being. It enables them to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations which can help them better manage stress and anxiety levels.

The basics of introducing mindfulness into the classroom include making time during the day for mindful activities such as meditation/breathing exercises, guided visualization, body scans, and other mindful movement activities.

Mindfulness has many benefits for both students and teachers in the classroom. These include increased self-awareness, improved focus, better regulation of emotions, decreased stress levels, enhanced problem-solving ability, more positive relationships with peers, higher academic performance, greater empathy towards others, and improved overall well-being.

Introducing mindfulness into the classroom can be done through small but meaningful steps such as taking a few moments each day for mindful breathing exercises or guided visualizations.

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