Mindfulness is most frequently defined as paying attention to what is happening in the present moment, on purpose, without judgement. It is the practice of focusing our awareness on both our external and internal worlds. Just as we notice our environment, we can also pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and sensations. In so doing, we recognize the transient nature of all experience. In practicing mindfulness we are better able to respond, rather than react, to the changes that inevitably occur in our lives. Mindfulness helps us live in the present, rather than reliving the past or imagining the future.
Mindfulness with Youth
Young children are ideal students of mindfulness, as they are typically still very familiar with what it means to be “in the moment". Teaching mindfulness to children and teens helps them develop an awareness of their inner and outer experiences, and build skills for coping with the challenges ahead.
As students are acclimating to school settings that expect more self-regulation, mindfulness helps both teachers and students to find and maintain better emotional balance.
Mindfulness--for all of us-- provides the means by which we gracefully respond to our experience rather than react to it.
In schools, mindfulness education fits well within the larger context of social-emotional learning. Mindfulness helps students develop the capacity to use the skills learned.
For more on the importance of social and emotional learning within schools, please see here and bear in mind the ongoing research that CASEL and other organizations continue to present us with.: