As the research pours in, mindfulness has become a recommended part of many school curriculums. What is mindfulness? It is paying attention to things as they are right now; like your breath, your body, and the sounds around you.
Research shows that practicing mindfulness can calm people down, help them focus, and help them connect with others better. We now know that the brain is changeable and can do more growing and changing with the right stimulation. This has been wonderful news for brain-injured patients, improving reading disabilities, feeling happier, healing from surgeries faster, and growing business. Daniel J Siegal has been researching how the brain adapts and the right approach has shown how we can build better people and happier people. How relationships improve and people can become more productive and happy.
This approach often includes mindfulness. The practice of taking a few moments each day focusing on the here and now. The easiest way to do this is to focus on your breath. With practice the ability to focus on bodily sensations for longer periods of time increases. We gain control of our own brains and can focus better while listening to others, concentrating on our work, and while learning in school.
Yoga helps us concentrate on our body sensations, a type of mindfulness. Body scan meditations are good guided ways to practice mindful intent. Looking at trees, nature, and listening to birds can be mindful. Just observing as things are, without thought and without an opinion or judgment - just observe.
The business world has also discovered the strength of mindfulness and has added mindfulness to their offices, staff, and companies. Shawn Achor of Harvard's Positive Psychology department has proven the effectiveness of mindfulness in raising productivity in offices and companies. He offers 5 things to do each day that guarantee happiness. He found that happiness gives job satisfaction, not the other way around, where we typically think the right job creates happiness.
The medical field has also acknowledge the benefits. Research at Boston's Beth Deaconess Medical Center shows that patients who meditate for short times each day recover faster from surgery. Mindfulness apps for cancer patients are available. Inner awareness creates a calm body that can focus on healing instead of energy used for coping with stress. Mindfulness is also a tool to help us all cope with disruption, pandemic, and change. Spending time in the here and now erase fears, worries, stress, and bothersome thoughts just for a few moments.
In school, practicing mindfulness helps students calm down, stay focused, and connect with others. Mind Yeti uses a step-by-step approach for young children to learn how to increase their concentration. The brain becomes more selective and stronger. Students also learn how to feel calm inside and to be better friends. Students learn that mindfulness is paying attention to things as they are right now with kindness and curiosity. Children naturally enjoy these silent inner moments while being gently guided in focusing. This causes gentle changes in the brain that increase efficiency for life and it is free. Anyone can practice mindfulness anytime. What a powerful tool to make the world a better place!
Living in Bangladesh, where Buddhism flourished in the late ancient period, makes this new research even more exciting. Aspects of meditation that had been taught and practiced in this country many years ago has powerful neurological advancements, we now know.
Vivian Huizenga, Primary Counselor International School Dhaka