Mindfulness in the Classroom

Teach students to take a moment to relax and maximize mindfulness.

Students are expected to strengthen their minds through attending class, paying attention, and studying lessons. How can educators expect students to maximize the mind’s potential without using conditioning exercises to improve mindfulness? Lead by example and share these methods to encourage student mindfulness.

Teach Them to Breathe Easy

mindfulnessDevote time each day to practice mindfulness in the classroom. For five or 10 minutes each day, preferably at the beginning or middle of class, ask children to remove everything from desktops. Instruct students to close their eyes and relax while seated in their chairs. Everyone should begin by taking full, deep breaths for approximately one minute. Students should envision air being inhaled through the nose, filling their lungs, down toward the abdomen. Exhalation should fully empty the lungs through the mouth. While continuing this breathing rhythm, ask students to calmly think about a challenge they are facing in school. They should picture the problem, calmly consider steps to solve the issue, and think about how they will implement this plan in class. As the five- or 10-minute mark draws near, ask students to continue relaxing, maintain their pace of breathing, and slowly open their eyes at the end of the exercise.

Goodnight, Stressors

A good, solid, night’s sleep is integral to maximizing student performance. When students lie in bed thinking about difficult concepts that they aren’t grasping, tomorrow’s exam, extracurricular activities, or simply the twists and turns of navigating teenage life, they will not be properly rested for the next day. Incorporating mindfulness activities into bedtime rituals will help students prepare for restful sleep, and Dr. Andrew Weil recommends his 4-7-8 breathing method as a solution to attain quality rest. Touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth and leave it in place during the entire exercise. Breathe in through the nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, and release for eight counts with a strong audible exhale. This method is so effective, many people don’t remember falling asleep!

Mind Your Own Mindfulness

Mindfulness is quickly becoming recognized as a valuable in-class teaching tool. Though educators can benefit from researching mindfulness online, becoming fully invested in learning these techniques allows teachers to relay their own faith in the practice to students. Many universities are now incorporating mindfulness training through workshops and classes. The University of Massachusetts Medical School offers MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) training options, including a five-day intensive training in different cities throughout the United States and eight-week online course.

Mindfulness is an important asset in the movement toward fresh, innovative teaching concepts, designed to help educators and benefit individual students. Improve the quality of your curriculum and students’ learning capabilities through implementing mindfulness practices in the classroom.

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