What is Mindfulness?

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness is a form of social and emotional learning that can be described as a particular way of paying attention in order to bring awareness to one’s experience. Generally considered to be based on age-old practices from the time of the Buddha, scholars also believe that similar practices were advocated in older Hindu teachings, as well as in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim teachings. Today, mindfulness is often practiced in a secular way using concentrated breath work, body scans, and sensory and motor awareness to become fully present in the moment. Studies demonstrate that the benefits of mindfulness include better focus and concentration, increased self-awareness, stronger impulse control and feelings of calm, reduced aggression and violent behavior, stress, and loneliness, and increased empathy and understanding of others.

With these mindfulness benefits documented in adults, introducing mindfulness to students has the potential to improve academic achievement, mental health, and inter- and intra-personal relationships.[1]

The Need for Mindfulness

The need for mindfulness in our education system is clear. Stress levels in students are high; pressure from within the school system as well as from parents for increased test scores takes a toll on both students and teachers. There are increasing numbers of suspensions and dropouts; kids are disengaged from school and don’t even want to be in school to learn. Many problems schools face are the inability of students to focus or control their impulses, stress and anxiety in both students and teachers, and a lack of connection between students and their school community.[2]

Research on Mindfulness

Studies of mindfulness programs in schools have demonstrated a range of cognitive, social, and psychological benefits to both elementary and high school students.[3]

The organization Mindful Schools, featured in Room To Breathe, offers online training courses for adults to learn mindfulness and use it with youth. Its mission is to lead the integration of mindfulness into education. Mindfulness is a simple but powerful technique to focus attention, manage emotions, handle stress, and resolve conflicts. The Mindful Schools curriculum brings improvements in concentration, attention, and empathy, while building a climate of calm in the classroom. To date, Mindful Schools has trained educators, social workers, psychologists, parents, and other adults from over 60 countries, impacting more than 250,000 youth globally.[4]

For more information about learning mindfulness or bringing it to your school please visit our Resources page.

  1. http://www.mindfulschools.org/about-mindfulness/mindfulness
  2. http://www.mindfulschools.org/about/our-story/
  3. http://www.stillquietplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/IMEK-12-ARTICLE-IN-JOURNAL-MINDFULNESS-ONLINE-VERSION-11.pdf
  4. http://www.mindfulschools.org/about-mindfulness/research/