What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state where we are focused, clear, and aware of the present moment, while observing our feelings and thoughts from a distance without judging the value of those emotions. This practice can train individuals from responding to certain stimuli, while ignoring others in an effort to focus on the present moment, neither worrying about the past or the future. Mindfulness meditation can be used as a way to both focus thoughts or emotions on a present task, or it can be used to calm individuals down to a relaxed and clear mental space.
Why would this be beneficial in a classroom?
Everyone has a hard time leaving personal pressures and stresses outside the workplace or classroom. I remember I had this one English teacher in High school who would tell us to leave what’s outside the classroom, outside. It’s a good mentality, but sometimes it’s hard to follow in reality. Mindfulness meditation could be a good exercise to calm down a class if they are rowdy, or a good way to begin the class so that everyone can learn in a clear mental space for the rest of the day. Mindfulness has been shown to improve the mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being of young people. It has also been shown to increase openness and responsiveness in the classroom.
3 Activities to Encourage Mindfulness
1. Lead Meditation: A great way to practice mindfulness is to meditate for a few minutes. There are free guided meditations that you can find online on websites as well as on YouTube. I find that even having 3-5 minutes to concentrate on my breathing has a great effect on my focus and my mood.
2. Visualization Exercises: Another way that people can get in touch with aspects of their emotional self is to have visualization exercises where you can lead individuals to a place of peace.Visualizing your “compassionate image” is where you imagine the perfect image of compassion which can then be recalled during stressful periods.
3. Mindfulness Log: To stay in the moment and focus on the present, you can introduce a sensory log where students can keep track of things they see, hear, touch, feel, and taste during the day (helping them to stay in the sensation of the moment). This could be a great descriptive activity to use in an ELA classroom if you’re looking to have students practice their descriptive skills. This can also be modified into a mood journal, where student write updates about their emotional self and how they feel.
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