What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment
Mindfulness and meditation are often confused with relaxation techniques, however in their truest form the practices are about focused attention on the present moment, leading to a heightened awareness of one’s self and the world around. This is sometimes referred to as a state of ‘relaxed attention’. Through the practice of mindfulness we are able to achieve stillness and space within ourselves, counteracting the force of incessant thoughts with wise and considered action rather than impulsive behaviour. Mindfulness can be practised through silent or guided meditation (using a mantra, focusing on the breath or the sounds or objects around us), through focused physical activity such as yoga, walking or eating, and as part of our daily lives through our interactions with others and the world around us.
Regular mindfulness practice can help us ‘step back’ from situations and act with clarity, wisdom and perspective, rather than simply reacting in the heat of the moment. We are more able to focus on solutions rather than problems and to manage conflict and stress more effectively. This enables us to think and act with more awareness rather than just functioning and getting by. The positive effects of mindfulness are grounded not only in spiritual tradition, but in scientific fact. Whilst rooted in Buddhist philosophy, the practice of mindfulness is not dependent on a religious belief system. It is increasingly recognised in western psychology as an effective way of reducing stress and enhancing focus, self-awareness and emotional well-being.
- The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
- The non-judgmental observation of the ongoing stream of internal and external stimuli as they arise (Baer, 2003).
- Keeping one’s complete attention to the experience on a moment to moment basis (Martlett & Kristeller, 1999).
Advantages of mindfulness when included in the school day
“Our school has begun MindUP™ this year and we are witnessing incredible results concerning behavior, attention, and overall confidence in our students.”
— Jevon Lewis, Principal
Children's First Academy, Arizona
MindUP™ = Results
2/3 of all students said MindUP™ made them happier.
Increased Inhibitory Response
78% of all students said MindUP™ helped them be more relaxed.
Improved Math Achievements
MindUP™ can be the difference between a pass or fail grade on standardized tests.
MindUP™ Aligns with Common Core
MindUP™ aligns with math & literacy Common Core State Standards.
Improved Social Behavior:
Increased Social Interaction
90% of all students felt MindUP™ helped kids get along better.
64% of all 4th and 5th graders demonstrated increased empathy.
Increased Social Acceptance
56% of all students reported greater peer acceptance.
58% of children tried to help one another more often.
81% of children learned to make themselves happy.
82% of children reported that MindUP™ helped them to have a more positive outlook.
Improved Planning and Organization
75% of 3rd graders showed improved planning and organization skills.
Increased Emotional Control
Over 1/3 of 3rd graders demonstrated greater emotional control.
Increased inhibitory response
54% of 2nd and 3rd graders increased inhibitory response.
Examples of Successful Practice
Edutopia's flagship series highlights practices and case studies from K-12 schools and districts that are improving the way students learn. Below, find tools used by practitioners, and dive into a real-world example of mindfulness in schools.
Learn about Visitacion Valley Middle School, in San Francisco, California, and the positive effects of a Quiet Time program that was implemented in 2007; read "How to Start a Meditation Program in Your School" to find out more; then, check out a few of this school’s tools:
- Quiet Time Primer -- Download Visitacion Valley’s introduction to implementing Quiet Time.
- Parent Letter and Parent Permission Form – Check out a parent letter and parent permission form related to Visitacion Valley’s Quiet Time program.
- Visitacion Valley Bell Schedule – Take a look at Visitacion Valley’s bell schedule to see how the school incorporates quiet time into their daily schedule.