English, Humanities for grades 3-8, High School Essays & Writing
Introducing mindfulness, meditation, calm corners
By Sheila Lewis, Consultant and Author
More and more schools are witnessing the benefits of bringing mindfulness practices into education as a strategy for promoting social and emotional learning among students and for replacing overly harsh (so-called “zero tolerance”) disciplinary policies with alternatives that teach and apply new skills.
Mindfulness is the moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, emotions, and sensations in the internal and external environment. Based on ancient and classical yoga and meditation techniques, mindfulness is practiced to offset stress and bring us into lasting, positive relationships with ourselves and others. In the 1990s, mindfulness was widely introduced into health settings and, more recently, into schools. When applied systematically and embedded in the daily schedule, mindfulness can transform toxic stress into a thriving culture, an oasis in the chaos. Simply put, tools such as breathing and watching thoughts come and go non-reactively bypass the rational, thinking mind, and target the nervous system. Regular practice allows us to go beyond hardwired fight, flight, or freeze responses. Habits and feelings like fear, anxiety, and worry are dissipated and released. As our minds become clear, we are better able to focus on healthy interactions and learning.