Mindfulness is a Life Skill
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.
We pay attention to our senses, our inner world of thoughts and emotions, and what is happening in our external environment. Grounding our attention in the present moment allows us to fully inhabit our experience, step back from our thoughts and emotions, and respond to life with more enjoyment and intention.
On a physiological level, mindfulness lowers our heart rate, reduces our stress levels and releases chemicals in our brain that make us alert and receptive. We are at our best when our attention is in the present moment.
Google, Aetna and other Fortune 500 companies provide mindfulness training to their employees. The U.S. Marines, NASA, Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle Sea Hawks, Katy Perry, Anderson Cooper and countless others practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a skill set children and teens use to disengage from a stress response and shift their nervous systems into a focused and receptive state. It helps them approach their moment-to-moment experiences with openness and curiosity. They learn to recognize habitual patterns of thought and respond to everyday experiences, more thoughtfully and with more skill.
Mindfulness is a Secular Practice:
Mindfulness was introduced in secular practices over 30 years ago, through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. His program is called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is used in adult populations, all over the world. NASA, the US Marines, the NFL, the NBA, Fortune 500 companies and countless medical centers and wellness program use mindfulness to reduce stress loads, increase health and improve cognitive performance.
Mindfulness is Easy to Carry Out and Highly Beneficial:
A growing body of research on mindfulness education with children and adolescents highlight its many overall benefits:
- Better focus, concentration and memory levels
- Decreases in anxiety, stress & depression levels
- Increases in empathy, self-awareness & sleep patterns
Professor Katherine Weare, of Exeter University in England, is a leading researcher in the field of mindfulness education for children and teens. In “Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People,” a report published in April, 2012, she highlighted its benefits in the cognitive areas of performance:
“Mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function. It can help young people:
pay greater attention
be more focused
think in more innovative ways
use existing knowledge more effectively
improve working memory and
enhance planning, problem solving and reasoning skills.” (emphasis added)
Professor Katherine Weare of Exeter University