It’s no secret that when a new trend catches the imagination of the general public, it will have its day in the sun on the internet. Like mindfulness, for example, which was a topic that flared up out of nowhere quite a few years back. It caught the public imagination in a big way; with articles touting the benefits of it to varying degrees of accuracy. Ultimately, like all such things, the public focus on it faded and things moved. And now, here I am writing an article on it in 2023. Because, while the spotlight may have moved on, mindfulness is something with a great deal of benefits for young people both in and outside of school.
So what exactly is mindfulness? This is important to clarify because its association with meditation can potentially give people the wrong impression. While mindfulness can be achieved via meditation (which has some provable benefits by itself), this is not the only way to go about it. Indeed, this is what makes mindfulness such a useful practice to pursue. Not only does it provide essential benefits, but it’s also very easy to engage with in a classroom setting.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing your mind on the task you are doing in the present moment. Now, on the surface, this seems fairly straightforward. It certainly won’t sound like something which requires its own kind of discipline. But when we’re doing something, we’re rarely only focused just on what we’re doing. We’re thinking about previous events, wondering about the future or just getting distracted by other things going on. The sheer amount of times I’ve become distracted getting just this far into this blog is telling evidence of that. Mindfulness activities are an excellent way of building up your ability to focus. And the benefits of mindfulness are more significant than not getting distracted while working.
Mindfulness also has notable mental health benefits as well. Engaging in mindfulness activities can help to lower stress and anxiety and boost mood, which makes sense when you think about it. Anxiety and depression are often tied to worrying about future events or stressing over past situations. By building up a habit of being focused on the present moment, you’re teaching yourself to stop worrying about these things which will naturally help to boost your mood.
At this point, you (the reader) are either sold on mindfulness, already liked it, or were never going to be convinced in the first place. So, for the first two categories of readers, let’s move on to the next question; how do you go about cultivating mindfulness?
As we’ve discussed, meditation is one way that you can go about cultivating mindfulness. And it’s certainly not a method which is impossible to incorporate into a school setting. That being said, it is the most awkward of the potential activities. Fortunately, mindfulness is not some kind of arcane art which requires special equipment. You merely need a simple task which can be focused on without needing to consider a variety of different factors. As a result, colouring activities are a fantastic option for school-time mindfulness activities. You can also consider activities such as crosswords or word searches. All of these kinds of options work well in class. This is because you can use them for a break between subjects, or as a way to wind down a lesson at the end of the day. And using these activities in this way will encourage your students to engage with them, as they’ll come across as a nice contrast to their standard lessons.
Ultimately, habits learned at a young age develop a significant amount of staying power. And mindfulness is a good habit with lifelong benefits.