Mindfulness in Education

For the past two years and continuing this year, the students in the Skylights and Eastenders have had a very special area of study. We have been practicing “mindfulness” a few times a week, using curriculum from the Mindful Schools Program.  I have taught a variety of lessons on generosity, gratitude, heartfulness, and mindful listening among others.

My initial motivation to teach mindfulness to our classes came from the dramatic way my own personal practice has transformed me in terms of stress, communication, patience, peaceful sleep and understanding my own emotions. As I have studied more about mindfulness, I have learned that there is a wealth of scientific evidence that practicing mindfulness positively changes adults, adolescents and children.

Substantial scientific research over the last 40 years demonstrates that a mindfulness practice reduces stress, decreases physical pain levels and provides greater energy and improved self-esteem in adults. Mindfulness based stress reduction clinics are in practice in every major hospital in the country and are extremely effective in reducing stress and pain levels in patients.

Research with adolescents is more recent but many of the same results occur. A study of adolescents in England showed significant reduction in symptoms including eating disorders, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-hurting. High school students with ADD improved behavior in school, organizational skills and improved scores on tests. These improvements were permanent for the young people who continued to meditate.

– Joan Pettijohn, Synergy 4/5 Teacher

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