by Rachel Taliaferro
A post I read recently on Utne Reader pointed me toward the increasing practice of mindfulness in schools and its beneficial effect on both teachers and students. Studies have found that regularly engaging in mindfulness (i.e., maintaining a constant awareness of feelings, thoughts, breathing, physical sensations, and surrounding environment) can have a positive impact on diminishing stress, anxiety, social conflict, and attention deficits among students. Likewise, research from the University of Wisconsin's Center for Investigating Healthy Minds found that after participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, teachers reported decreases in anxiety, depression, and burnout.
In the classroom, mindfulness can take many shapes, from the teacher just taking a moment during available time to decompress to having students lie down and do exercises to focus on their breathing, listening, and movement. Little research has been done on the effect of MBSR on children, and the movement is likely to meet some controversy due to its roots in Buddhist meditation practices, but participating schools and teachers have reported a noticeable difference in students--less anxiety in the classrooms, fewer fights on the playground, and increased attentiveness during lessons. It seems to be an effective measure, so it'll be interesting to see where this trend goes.
Learn more about mindfulness here.