Cultivating Mindfulness in the Classroom
By: Kim DeMoss
Mindfulness, simply put, means paying attention on purpose. In our fast-paced society this can be quite counter cultural, and we can end up with a mind literally full of ideas and thoughts and no space to process them. For students, the pressure to perform well academically, the focus on achievement standards, plus having constant access to technology can create a whole new level of stress and anxiety. As educators and students begin the transition back to school, lots of thoughts, feelings, and emotions will arise. Learning how to help regulate and understand these emotions will give us the power to overcome obstacles during this transition. This is why mindfulness is needed now more than ever, but what exactly does that mean?
Mindfulness for students is a technique that has the ability to change performance outcomes and affect social and emotional regulation skills. Neuroscientists are sharing more and more information about the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways through behaviors. Our brains aren’t made for complex multi-tasking. When we constantly switch back and forth between activities and thought processes, we are burning extra energy which can lead to a lack of focus with the things we are trying to accomplish. Research suggests that one of the primary advances in studies of meditation and mindfulness-based interventions has been the ability to improve performance and alter brain mechanisms.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean that we just shut out and turn off the mind. Mindfulness is a practice of being present and in tune with how we are feeling right now. Using techniques in mindfulness-based practices, we can cultivate a safe and calming environment for our students to succeed. By allowing students time to process and sit with their thoughts, ideas and emotions, we can give them the opportunity to change the way they think and prepare their minds for the new activity or lesson. Creating a culture of mindfulness in your classroom doesn’t have to be complicated, here are a few tips to get you started today:
- Keep it simple – Mindfulness is simply paying attention on purpose.
- Take your time – Slow down your normal pace, take a few deep breaths between activities and soak up the little details, it’ll be good for everyone!
- Mindfulness isn’t linear – The journey will look different for everyone, even in the same class or home.
- Stay present – Try not to dwell on what happened yesterday or your to-do list for tomorrow. The time will always come, it’s what you do with it that matters.
Try this mindful moment activity with your students today. Close your eyes, take 5 deep breaths and just focus on your sense of hearing. Without labeling the sounds, just listen to the noises that surround you. The sounds inside the room, the sounds outside, the sounds that seem close to you and the sounds that seem distant. Go ahead, take a moment and try it! There you go, you just practiced being mindful! The key is to keep it simple and not overthink how to practice mindfulness. For students, it means allowing them that little extra moment to let their gaze drift outside, spend another minute coloring a picture, or enjoying their snack with a bit more time. For more tips on cultivating mindfulness in your classroom, click here.
Kim DeMoss is a health and fitness professional and certified yoga instructor that has a passion for bringing yoga and mindfulness practices into the classroom. She has a 200 hour RYT certification as well as over 100 hours of specialized trauma informed yoga training for adults and children. She has published several articles about yoga and teaches yoga classes for all ages in her community. Kim is the founder and creator of Project Mindful Movement, a program specifically designed for educators to simplify teaching mindfulness-based practices to students in a classroom environment. She loves watching young children learn to express themselves through movement and mindfulness practices. For more ways to learn how to incorporate mindfulness into your classroom, visit www.ProjectMindfulMovement.com