For the month of February, students will be practicing the skill of mindfulness. Mindfulness is intentionally focusing our attention on the present moment. It is the state of being conscious or aware of something happening right now without wishing it was different.
WHY DOES MINDFULNESS MATTER? HOW DOES IT HELP US?
We spend a lot of time thinking about the past or future instead of being engaged in the present moment and research shows this can make us feel unhappy. Mindfulness is our ability to pay attention to our feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations and our environment, in the moment, without labeling them as good or bad (non-judgement). This means we aren’t feeling bad or trying to change our feelings but instead just noticing them and becoming more aware of them and the world around us. This may seem simple, but mindfulness requires practice. Mindfulness has been shown to have many benefits. Paying attention to the present moment can boost our mood, improve our self-confidence and help us think more clearly. It can also improve our immune system’s ability to fight disease. Mindfulness can actually increase brain size, specifically the parts responsible for learning, memory and empathy.
RESEARCH BASED OUTCOMES OF MINDFULNESS
- Improves our ability to pay attention, which helps us feel good at school
- Reduces obesity by helping us savour the food we eat and make better food choices
- Increases grey matter in the brain (the parts of our brain involved with learning, memory, empathy and emotional regulation)
- Reduces anger and hostility in a range of settings
- Lowers stress levels in parents and teachers
- Helps us cope with and bounce back from stressful situations
- Makes our immune system stronger
- Reduces how much time we spend worrying
It’s easy to miss all of the great little details of life and the world around us when we don’t pay attention. Stories of mindfulness are often full of these little moments of joy. The next time you stop and examine how a worm moves, notice the smell of flowers in the air, or savour every bite of your favorite food, you are using mindfulness.