What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means a conscious awareness of mind, body and emotions, at a given moment in time. Its practice has its roots in ancient Buddhist meditation but it is as relevant and useful today as it was then. It has become a very popular form of stress reduction as it helps to clear the head, is non-judgemental and self-compassionate.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is regarded as the father of modern Mindfulness and he developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses which are universally used today. He defined Mindfulness in 2017 as: “… paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
Relevance in School
Life in general and life in schools in particular, can be challenging for anyone. In order to rise to the challenges and get the most out of the school environment and experience, both staff and pupils need to find ways to cope. Deadlines, workloads, exams and social pressures can sometimes push us to our limits and that doesn’t take into account what is happening outside school. Mindfulness can be a tool in a coping strategies toolkit.
Who can help?
Mindfulness in Schools Project
Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) is a charity and the most established provider of mindfulness training and curricula for schools in the UK. It aims to help schools flourish academically, socially and emotionally. MiSP programmes for schools include: .b Foundations (adults in education setting), Paws.b (7-11 yrs primary) and .b (secondary). They all require a qualified Mindfulness practitioner to deliver. In order for teachers to teach mindfulness in schools they need to have done an 8 week mindfulness course themselves and have developed their own practice before teaching to pupils.
.b is a 10-week course for young people aged 11-18, delivered in the classroom or in small groups within other youth-related settings.
At the most simple level .b is an awareness-raising exercise to give all students a taste of mindfulness so that they know about it and can return to it later in life if they think it might help. However, for many pupils the course can relatively quickly lead to very positive outcomes: they feel calmer and more fulfilled; they can concentrate better; they have a toolkit to deal with stress and anxiety
.b intends to help the young people who experience it to overcome difficulties, thrive and flourish – and the research that has taken place into its effectiveness suggests it does indeed have the potential to meet these more ambitious goals.
Paws b is for children aged 7 -11 and is offered formally as a series of PSHE lessons, and informally through integrating the learning and practice of mindfulness in all National Curriculum subjects and in the children’s everyday lives. It is a primary school version of .b
In addition there is a new course available to school staff called .begin which is a starting point for teachers who are keen to know more about Mindfulness. It is run online specifically for staff who would find attending a course difficult.
To find out more, and for contact details of a .b or Paws b teacher in your area, go to www.mindfulnessinschools.org
Mindfulness Cornwall also has a Mindfulness in Schools page with local, current information. It is a good way to find local, MiSP qualified teachers and relevant courses.
Mindfulness UK have their main office in Taunton and have developed a programme for staff, children and young people called Minding Your Health in Education.