Mindfulness in School
By: Gabriella Nobou
Mindfulness is a zen state of mind achieved by focusing on the present and being environmentally aware while keeping intact your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations to achieve a soothing relief from stress and negative emotions. Incorporating mindfulness into our school environment through a course (like Wellness) or a program will help students destress and be present in the moment while maintaining awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and surroundings. This practice focuses on positive and negative thoughts without letting them control you. Incorporating mindfulness into education at Conard can help students apply mindful thinking as a coping skill in their everyday lives while promoting a message of positive mental health throughout the Conard community. Mindfulness promotes higher brain functioning, increases your attention, boosts your memory, and enhances your decision-making skills. The Peace in Schools organization based in Oregon communicates through their website and Youtube channel the positive effects of transformative mindfulness education in schools. It brings a sense of community and humanity to the school environment. Teaching this skill urges feelings of togetherness with your community by changing your perception to understand others’ feelings and how your actions can impact someone else. This method of achieving self-awareness, social connection, and emotional intelligence is especially important right now given the unprecedented mental and social effects of COVID-19 in society, which promote feelings of stress and isolation.
Teaching this skill in a school environment can help students deal with various mental and emotional problems. Teens in the Youtube video “Teen Voices: The Power of a Mindful Education” by Peace in Schools have also claimed mindfulness to have helped them deal with anger, anxiety, depression, grief, and more. One girl claimed that mindfulness helps her “see things from a broader perspective” when dealing with frustration. Many teens said mindfulness helped them acknowledge their emotions, navigate them, and develop an appropriate mindful response. One way to practice this is the “STOP” method: stopping, taking a breath, observing, and proceeding, which can help someone be more aware of their surroundings and gain a sense of calm when it is needed. Mindfulness is about reflection, not reaction, and rather than controlling our thoughts and emotions, it is about not letting our thoughts and emotions control us. Several studies show this skill to increase feelings of well-being, focus and promote academic achievement. Having mindfulness incorporated into school offers students a safe space to reflect on emotions and talk to others about their feelings. In 2014, Peace in Schools set in motion the first four-credit mindfulness course in public high schools, and it continues to transform people’s lives. Mindfulness at Conard can act as a domain for students to work on their mental health and emotional well-being and connect to one another within the Conard community. It teaches everyone - students and staff alike - positivity, mindful thinking, coping skills, meditation, self-care, and widens your perception of self and others.