Children face a barrage of diversions and challenges in today’s fast paced, technology driven environment, that simply did not exist when I was a child.
I find it easy to imagine how this constant stimulation could lead to nervous systems becoming overloaded, confused and out of sorts. In some households continued busyness becomes the norm, and the ability to feel calm, relaxed and focussed is often illusive. Quietness and stillness can become so unusual that kids may feel strange and uncomfortable if they are not continually stimulated. But constant stimulation without time to recharge and rejuvenate, can come with the cost of chronic stress .
Children just like adults need time out, but it seems that kids may need to learn how to move through the uncomfortable feelings that can initially arise with quiet and stillness. This is where mindfulness training can be of great help. Mindfulness training can teach children how to calm their body and mind, to focus, to be reflective and aware, and in time, think more deeply and understand themselves more fully.
The difference between relaxing activities and mindfulness is the cultivation of awareness. Mindfulness teaches children to observe themselves; to notice what is happening in their minds and bodies and pay full attention to the present moment.
Self-awareness and emotional regulation are the main benefits of mindfulness education. Emotional states can be as variable as the weather. Cultivating the skills of self-awareness can help children become conscious of their automatic reactions, especially when emotions are tricky. They can then choose to make more considered responses which will serve them and others more positively.
Along with the management of emotional states, improved concentration and improved general energy levels, are products of learning mindfullness. It is a type of training that can be explored in a variety of ways and is proven to help deal with pain, stress, depression and anxiety. It is also a way to strengthen attention skills, develop resilience and improve overall physical and mental well-being.
As stress levels decrease and mindfulness evolves, self-regulating properties of the body and mind can be tapped for living and learning more easily, calmly and effectively.
Extensive research indicates that we all learn best when we are both calm and alert, so it is easy to see why mindfulness training has been shown to improve intellectual and academic outcomes as well.
With all this evidence in mind, I am wondering when all our schools will include mindfulness training and practice into their daily schedules?