One of the most important applications of mindfulness is self regulation, which helps children (and adults) resolve conflicts more skillfully. Recently, we heard this from a 5th grader in a San Francisco school:
“A time I used mindfulness breathing was when my little brother threw a fake trumpet at my head. I was so mad because it made a huge knot on my head. I was going to pick up the fake trumpet and swing it at his head like a baseball. I just took a deep breath over and over until I forgot about it. My favorite thing about mindfulness breathing is that it can calm down anyone.”
We often hear stories like this one where a child wisely remembers their mindfulness and avoids escalating a situation that could result in serious injury. As we see time and time again, children are brilliant at taking a lesson they learn and applying it in just the right context.
The advantage that mindfulness practice gives us is that by training our mind prior to the moment where we need it, we can all make better decisions under pressure.
We are thrilled to share so much great news in this newsletter, and we hope you are able to look through it all. We wish you a great summer!
The Mindful Schools Team
About Mindful Schools
Since we have a number of new subscribers, we thought it would be good to give a little background about Mindful Schools and what we do.
Our program has used a scientifically proven technique called mindfulness to teach concentration, attention, conflict resolution, and empathy to over 11,000 children and 500 teachers in 41 schools, 71% serving primarily low-income children. We have also conducted training and workshops for over 1,500 public and private school parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals in education and social work.
Why Mindfulness Belongs in Schools
Over the years, we have seen mindfulness help schools in many ways, providing:
Better focus and concentration
Decreased stress for students and teachers
Improved school-wide culture and climate
Less stress around testing
Stronger impulse control and reduced violence
Fostered conflict resolution skills
Skillful ways to respond to difficult situations
Increased empathy and understanding of others
On our web site, we have paired each of these with a short real-world anecdote that we have come across. We invite you to take a look through them.
But the best way to learn about the value of mindfulness is to hear directly from children and adults (including teachers, principals, school psychologists, and district supervisors) who have benefited from it. Please click on the images below to see testimonials from our recent banquet on YouTube:
We are delighted to announce that we will be offering an online version of our Mindfulness Fundamentals course starting this fall. This is a six-week online training on the essential techniques and application of mindfulness. It has been adapted from our local onsite Level 1 training, and consists of weekly reading, guided audio practices, and supportive worksheets. A guiding teacher will be monitoring the training as well as responding to questions and adding relevant comments to enhance the experience of the group. By the end of this course, you will have the tools and experience to continue a personal mindfulness practice that will support you at work as well as at home.
Participants are required to have Internet access, an email account, and the ability to open PDF documents and listen to MP3s on their computer. If you are interested in teaching the Mindful Schools in-class curriculum to children, this training does meet the prerequisites for our Level 2: Curriculum Training.
For complete information about all these trainings, as well as full descriptions of the courses, please visit our Adult Training page.
Wisdom 2.0 Youth We are happy to announce that we will be participating in the Wisdom 2.0 Youth conference on September 17, 2011 in Silicon Valley. This event focuses on the balance between technology and internal development, and includes speakers from a variety of organizations and areas of expertise.
International Conference on Mindfulness with Youth
In July, 180 attendees from all over the world gathered to learn about a variety of approaches to bringing mindfulness to schools and to youth. It was exciting to receive requests from people in Canada, Europe, and New Zealand about bringing our work to their countries. The very successful conference was organized by Gina Biegel (a member of our Research Advisory Board) and Catherine Phillips.
Jon Kabat-Zinn Presents “The Role of Mindfulness in Education” on Feb. 17, 2012
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the renowned mindfulness teacher, author, and founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) will present “The Role of Mindfulness in Education” at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach auditorium on Feb. 17, 2012.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn has been a friend of Mindful Schools since our inception and we are incredibly grateful to him for offering to do an event to benefit our program.
Life continually presents us with opportunities to apply mindfulness to our many activities. One particularly fun activity to apply mindfulness to is eating. It’s something you can easily try by yourself at your next meal, and even with friends or family. If you have kids, it’s a great one to try with them.
One way to think of mindful eating is to imagine that you are a scientist examining your food for the first time. Give your full attention to the whole experience, from observing the appearance and presentation of food to eating it carefully to fully experience its various flavors. If you do this, you may find that a common meal becomes a richer experience.
Here’s how to try the exercise. You can use a raisin, a piece of chocolate, or even an entire meal as your object for mindful eating.
Start by looking at what you are planning to eat. What do you notice visually?
Now, smell the food carefully. What do you notice?
If applicable, do you notice any sounds? If you’re eating something like a raisin, try holding it close to your ear as you squeeze it gently. Or if you’re unwrapping a chocolate, listen to the crinkles of the wrapper as you unfold it.
What do you feel with your fingers? Is the food warm or cold? Is it smooth, rough, or sticky?
Now, put the piece of food on your tongue, but don’t chew on it yet. Just leave it on your tongue and notice how it feels in your mouth. Do you taste anything yet? What activity do you notice in your mouth?
Start chewing it, very slowly, just one bite at a time. Notice how the tastes change as you chew.
Try to notice when you swallow, and see how far you can feel the food into your body.
The beautiful thing is that by applying this idea of eating mindfully, you can learn to be more present while you eat. In this way, we become more aware of our reactions to food and eating, as well as our habits around meal time. Also, eating mindfully doesn’t have to mean eating slowly. As you know what to pay attention to, you can eat at any speed.
You may end up enjoying food that you like even more while becoming more tolerant of food that you may not like as much. In some cases, you may learn to appreciate flavors you previously discounted. In other cases, you might identify new flavors that you enjoy. And, you may also find that by adding a little more space between stimulus and response, you can decrease the emotional intensity of eating food you dislike.
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Job Opening: School Coordinator
Want to help get Mindful Schools into more schools in the future? If so, you may want to apply for our part-time school coordinator job, which pays $20/hour for 20 hours a week. The school coordinator will be responsible for helping our in-school program run smoothly throughout the school year.
This position does not include medical, dental, or vision benefits, but does offer:
Working at a company that incorporates mindfulness into its culture
Working with a kind, friendly team dedicated to sharing mindfulness
Mentoring and guidance from experienced staff
2 weeks vacation annually for half-time employees
1 week of mindfulness retreat practice time annually for half-time employees
Flexible work hours
Monthly “brown bags” for watching interesting talks with colleagues
If you are interested, please complete our application form by August 15, 2011. We look forward to hearing from you!
Get Involved with Mindful Schools
Much of the growth of Mindful Schools has occurred because of the generosity of donors and tireless support of volunteers. We are tremendously grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way. If you want to be involved, please contact us.
In addition, we are always grateful for any financial support that you or people you know may want to provide. Mindful Schools is funded by the joint efforts of grants, school contributions, and individual donors. Over 70% of the schools we’ve taught at serve predominantly low-income children and receive scholarships for the program. We also offer need-based scholarships for adult trainees.
About Mindful Schools
Founded in 2007, the mission of Mindful Schools is to transform education through mindfulness. We achieve this by offering in-class instruction, professional training, and other resources to support mindfulness in education.
Our program has used a scientifically proven technique called mindfulness to teach concentration, attention, conflict resolution, and empathy to over 11,000 children and 500 teachers in 41 schools, 71% of which serve low-income children. Mindful Schools has conducted training and workshops for over 1,500 public and private school parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals in education and social work.