What is Mindfulness?
A simple definition of “Mindfulness” is learning to pay attention to this present moment by noticing thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and feelings. When we take time to notice our physical and mental impulses, we learn how to nuture them in a special way that helps stop careless reactions and increases skillful and caring responses. Probably best known as a stress-reduction tool, mindfulness nurtures innate coping skills, providing participants with tools for dealing with conflict and adversity while increasing the ability to focus and control impulses.
We tell kids to ‘pay attention’ in class, but have we shown them how to do it? Staying focused in present moments can be very difficult for a child. Without proper guidance and deligent practice, children don’t know any better than to live submersed in what their sensory messages are telling them (on ‘autopilot’). Mindfulness provides children with trained skills for how to understand their physical and mental impulses.
According to Dr. Kabat-Zinn (2003), mindfulness is ”the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience.” Like emotional intelligence, mindfulness helps children to feel comfortable and in-control of their bodies, which increases emotional balance and feelings of contentment. It’s not an all-healing remedy, but it is a much needed foundation for our education, our schools that are riddled with across-the-board issues such as bullying, lack of focus, isolation, violence, lack of impulse control, drugs, alcohol and stress, all of which mindfulness has been shown to help reduce.
“To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing.” – Thich Nhat Hanh –
Please visit our Support Research page to learn more about the work of mindfulness research by many professionals, scholars, and community spiritual leaders.