Now, more than ever we need to consciously connect with present moments and experiences rather than losing them to the constant pull of social media or gaming. It wasn't long ago that as toddlers, we would sit and hold objects in our hands, completely absorbed and it that moment. Is society today teaching us out of being mindful?
Mindfulness is a practical tool that we should embrace to deal with life, it gives us the capacity to develop ourselves and the work we do. How often in the day do we just sit quietly and do absolutely nothing? We are rushing to the next lesson, rushing to meetings, to meet deadlines, think about the next thing on our to do list. We really need to some time, just ten minutes at least, to pause and be.
There is often a misconception about mindfulness and “emptying” the mind. Rather it teaches us to focus on our breath and our mind, feeling the physical sensation of our feet on the floor as we sit. Your mind will wonder, and let it! Mindfulness is a non-judgemental practice. We are noticing what is here right now- it is with that that our mind does wonder, but we learn to bring our attention back, focusing on breath.
So why should we practice mindfulness? Mindfulness can encourage us to tune into the present moment, with attitudes of kindness, enquiry, patience, curiosity; these are all attitudes we encourage in education in our learning environment and to foster relationships with our peers and teachers. Not only this, but it is proven to increase productivity.
> "Mindfulness is a practical tool that we should embrace to deal with life."
What we do with our attention can really change the brain in a positive way. Many people are already doing this without us realising they are being mindful. Take the rugby player Johnny Wilkinson, an avid fan of mindfulness. He explains that before he takes his kicks, he stops, feels his thumbs, breathes, then takes his shot. He is in the moment and performing as well as he can.
We can take a leaf out of his book. Before a test or exam, poise and settle yourself, focus on your breath and not what’s on your paper! In the busy moments during the day, as hard as it may seem, you will be able to come back to the present moment and make choices, because you are aware. “How do I want to respond to this…” is a question you will ask yourself more, because you are poised and ready to take on the next task, rather than rushing to get it done.
I asked some of the students who attend the Mindfulness and Meditation ECA how it has helped them, here’s what they have to say!
“I wanted a time and space to be able to relax within the school week since I don’t have the time to do so on my own. On Mondays, especially, when deadlines are always set, I want to have a time when I can find some peace and quiet. The mindfulness activities are the most helpful because they help relax me and not make my workload too daunting.”
“The mindfulness colouring at the beginning helps me to disconnect from the day”.
“When we do the mindfulness walks I realise that there is so much in the school that I’ve never actually noticed before, I’m always just rushing to my lessons and not noticing what is around me.”
The Mindfulness and Meditation ECA continues in term two. Come and see how it can help you prepare for a happier, healthier way to deal with life’s battles.
Hanna Sail, Head of Spanish and Mindfulness and Meditation ECA Leader
If you would like to learn more, watch this TED Talk by Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe: