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It is often said that mindfulness is simple, but not easy. This is because while the principles, instructions, and techniques in mindfulness are very universal and accessible, employing them regularly, spontaneously, or continuously of your own volition can be very challenging.
In the same way, teaching mindfulness might seem simple, but it’s actually not easy to do effectively. This is because in order to be effective in teaching mindfulness, one must first embody and demonstrate mindfulness with their behavior. For this reason, we require people to have established a personal mindfulness practice before taking our Curriculum Training course. However, we also see teachers all the time who get a few mindfulness instructions, implement it in their classroom, and see striking results immediately. If you are interested in integrating mindfulness into your classroom, please try our sample lesson below as a way to introduce mindfulness to your students.
This script, which has been taught to over 30,000 children by Mindful Schools and our trainees since 2007, is geared toward K-5 elementary school students, but it can be easily adapted for other ages or targeted populations. If you like this lesson and your students respond positively, you might consider taking a fuller training to get more tools for your mindful classroom.
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Please note that in the text that follows, the regular (unitalicized) font represents spoken text, while the italicized font represents notes for the teacher.
Today I want us to learn something called mindfulness. Has anyone ever heard the word Mindfulness? Mindfulness is noticing what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness can help us learn to pay close attention to many things. It can also help us calm down when we are angry, sad, frustrated, or have any difficult emotion. Mindfulness can help us notice when we are happy or grateful too. It can also help us focus and in school, sports or music.
We’re going to try practicing mindfulness everyday so even if we don’t understand exactly what it is today, we will after some time.
There are a couple very important things that help us be mindful.
If students are at their desks, have them all move their chairs away from their desks and turn them toward the front of the room. Explain that they can do this each time you have mindfulness. Remind them each time until it is a habit.
The first thing that will help us during mindfulness is to let our bodies be very still… let’s try that?
The second thing automatically happens when we get still… what is the noise like in here right now, when you get still?
Yes, it gets very quiet.
Now we have still bodies and quiet bodies. That’s what we’ll call our mindful bodies. Now, let’s close our eyes and just sit like that for one minute.
You did a great job at your first practice of a mindful body. Was that easy or hard?
We won’t have to be this still and quiet all the time, but often I will remind you to get your mindful bodies on and this is what you can do.
There are a lot of things that we can learn to be mindful of. Today we are going to practice being mindful of sound.
I brought something to help us with that.
Bring out bell.
Would you like to hear what this sounds like? Ok, but we have to get our mindful bodies on.
Demonstrate a mindful body again and let them get ready. Make sure they are as still and quiet as you think that class is capable of.
Great job. Would you like to hear it again? Ok, but this time, get your mindful ears on. That means you listen very carefully, the whole time. So, see if you can pay attention from the very first moment you hear the bell all the way to the end. Raise your hand when the sound is gone.
Since you are so good at this, let’s try it one more time with our eyes closed. Let your eyes close. Listen just like you did before to the entire sound and raise your hand when the sound is gone for you.
We can also listen this carefully to any sound. There are lots of sounds around you all the time. If you listen very carefully, you might hear things you don’t normally hear. Let’s keep our mindful bodies on, with our eyes closed, and listen to the sounds around us. You might hear sounds in the classroom or outside, or even in your own body.
Mindful listening for about one minute.
Raise your hand if you would like to share some sounds that you noticed.
Comment on the quieter sounds and how quiet it had to be to hear them.
You have just learned how to pay attention better. In mindfulness, we learn how to focus and pay close attention to many things. Do you think it’s important to be able to focus? Why? When could you use mindful listening?
Let’s try this again tomorrow. Now that you’ve learned mindful listening, see if you can remember to listen to sounds around you the rest of today and tomorrow. You might stop and listen while you are on the playground, or in the classroom, or at home. And you can tell me what you sounds you noticed when we have mindfulness again tomorrow.
Journals or notebooks are optional. You can use the Mindful Schools Student Workbooks (included as part of our in-school program) or just have students write on a separate piece of paper. If you want to use this learning tool, invite students to write or draw for 5 minutes after mindfulness. Give them a question to answer about what they learned or noticed, or have them draw a picture of what they did.
If this sample lesson looks useful to you, you might want to take a course, or to get educators at your school trained. If you’d like to help Mindful Schools fulfill our mission, you may want to visit our Get Involved page.
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