As a person who grew up with a spiritual background, a knowledge of Hinduism, and with parents who practice yoga and meditation on a daily basis, I was quite excited to learn that my daughter's school would be incorporating mindfulness sessions into their curriculum.
Mindfulness is defined as "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique." In Hinduism, in order to achieve goals of "self-realization" or any goal for that matter, they often tell us of the necessity of being in the present moment. However, simply being in the present moment is by no means simple. it takes a lot of practice. We are constantly surrounded by schedules, to-do lists, and noise! In addition, we live in a society that takes pride in being busy and not in just "being". To change our norm requires work!
Here's where mindfulness comes in the picture and proves to be truly beneficial. With mindfulness, one becomes aware of one's own breath and is able to slow it down. One also becomes aware and mindful of his/her emotions and experiences. Yet, the trick is to simply be aware of those experiences without placing any judgement or opinion on them. Eventually, we can slow down enough to be truly present and fully experience each and every moment.
Introducing children to the idea and practice of mindfulness from a young age will have many benefits.
Some of the benefits reported by the Mindful Schools Program are:
Increased compassion and understanding of others
Better impulse control
Ability to calm one's self/overcome one's own fears
Regulates emotions (once emotions are observed, their transient nature is revealed, and we can change how we respond to them)
Let's face it... We are in a world of noise! Our children learn how to swipe open I-phones often by the time they turn one! It is easy to be distracted in our digital world where everyone wants instant gratification.
It is wonderful to see more and more schools incorporating mindfulness into their schools! I encourage teachers and parents to suggest introducing this topic to their schools, if they haven't already done so. This way, the benefits can be felt globally. Here's a sample starter lesson plan to share with your schools or children.
Let's just be! :)