We provide classes for students run by Mindful NZ Schools trained facilitators, Mindfulness Facilitator Programmes for educators, social workers and those who want to learn how to introduce Mindfulness practice for their students, teachers and others.
Mindfulness is gaining recognition as a resource to improve attention, the ability to deal with, improve attention, lower stress and anxiety as well as improving overall well-being.
These courses gives you the background, science, practices and activities to guide others and to establish a regular practice yourself.
Why Mindfulness in Schools?
Harvard University conducted a study on why some people were more successful than others. They tracked 1,000 people from birth to 32 years looking for reasons that set the successful people apart. At the end of the study they were able to point to one thing that underpinned success.
It wasn’t race, class, gender, rich or poor- it was the ability to pay attention and to have self-control and this was across a wide band of people from many different backgrounds and circumstances.
These two qualities were shared by all successful people in the study; the ability to regulate emotions and thinking and focus.
In short, if you can’t pay attention and focus you will not learn effectively and if you don’t have self control, you can’t work towards goals beyond ‘instant gratification’.
How can Mindfulness help?
One of the biggest causes of dropping out of school is behavioural problems-not learning to manage emotions is dangerous and the problem often escalates when left unchecked leading to under-achieving, poverty and lack of self-acceptance.
Studies have shown that emotional regulation, social behaviour and academic achievement increase significantly among students who have received Mindfulness instruction*.
Previously Mindfulness was available only to a minority of people, those who seeked it out or came across it by chance or in their line of work. We believe that Mindfulness should be available to everyone, everywhere- to alleviate personal suffering and promote self-regulation, increase emotional and social intelligence and develop compassion and empathy for others.
Mindfulness has been proven to enrich lives and to help children make sense of their emotions and their connection to others and the world around them.
Mindfulness exercises are designed to train our attention and awareness of where our attention is, choosing to shift attention when we get caught up in aimless thinking, worry and constant distraction.
It has been forecast that depression will affect 20% of the population by 2020. We know people, including children and students are suffering.
At the same time, research constantly reports Mindfulness leads to increased happiness and improved self-management and impulse control and many other well recorded, evidence based benefits.
So what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of purposefully engaging your attention in the present moment without judging it good or bad and noticing where your attention is;caught up in worry, anxious thinking, over thinking, aimless thinking.
It’s about not wandering off into an imagined future or going over the past but fully engaging right here right now.
Mindfulness is grounded in 30 years of scientific study at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology where it grew out of a programme designed to assist people with unmanageable pain and it was very successful.
Why aren’t we teaching Mindfulness when we know all this?
I have spoken to many social workers, councillors and educators who see the benefits and want Mindfulness in their schools but have to get approval, often from people who simply think Mindfulness is another ‘fad’ or ‘flavour of the month’.
Mindfulness is not a ‘fad’, it is not religious or ‘new age’, It is a proven technique that is shown to:
- Decrease stress and anxiety
- Decrease over-thinking and aimless thinking
- encourage impulse control
- improve memory, focus and attention
- improve overall well-being
- promote happiness and mental clarity
- improve sleep
- improve executive function
- increase compassion, acceptance and kindness.
From morning to night we are inundated with distractions: emails, social media, advertising, iphones, computers, ipods, tablets and the never ending inner dialogue that is very draining.
The ability to focus on one thing at a time is a skill and requires practice. Just as athletes, who know their sports, continue training on a daily basis, Mindfulness which really is a mental training requires regular practice.
All day long our minds are throwing up thoughts, memories, emotions. Thoughts and emotions come and go lives waves on the ocean- they rise up, stay awhile then dissolve back into the ocean. Our thoughts are like this too but when we identify with our thoughts and emotions they take over us- we give them power over us.
Pain is inevitable, it’s part of being human but suffering is ‘optional’. We can’t control what circumstances or events life will present us with but we can choose to respond rather than react by learning to not let emotions and thoughts control us.
Mindfulness allows us to be reflective rather than reactive. That’s not about running away from feelings and emotions but it helps us to not be overwhelmed.
Why don’t we teach Mindfulness in schools already?
At Mindful NZ Schools we seek to change the schools drop- out rate, low achievement, emotional and behavioural problems. We aim to help schools develop a culture of self-awareness, kindness and personal responsibility.
The purpose of Mindful NZ School’s work is to reach as many educators as possible to share these proven and effective techniques and give all children a chance to find their own strengths and connect with their innate ability to self-manage. This doesn’t just creates happier students and children it creates a happier culture in the whole school; for teachers and students.
Learn more about our courses and workshops here.
*results from a low decile school in America.
A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO MINDFULNESS
“Suspensions at our school dropped from 14 last year to 6 this year. We attribute this to the mindfulness programme.”
“I had dreaded this would be my last year teaching until the Mindfulness programme began at my school. Now I am Re-dedicated to my profession.”Quotes from educators
“The thing is with mindfulness is that when you are going to do something bad, you know it and you can stop.”
“I like mindfulness because it helps me feel better and teaches me to concentrate.”
“When my sister gets on my nerves, I tell her to leave me alone so I can take a deep breath. I always use the technique whenever I am mad.”
Quotes from children
“Teaching Mindfulness to school children is fast growing momentum as the benefits become evident. Mindfulness has great potential as a key strategy for a positively impacting on the learning and wellbeing of children and young people in education settings.”New Zealand Mental Health Foundation
“Rita is a fabulous facilitator – she made us feel extremely comfortable, was open minded and encouraged us all to share from our diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise. I came away with many very practical, easy to use exercises that I have since been using with with my classes of various ages. Thank you Rita for gifting me such a wonderful and enjoyable afternoon of learning”.
Louise Dore, Auckland