The term “mindfulness” has been tossed around quite frequently in recent years. What actually is “mindfulness,” and why has it become such a popular idea? Spoiler: mindfulness is a simple practice that has profound implications for promoting the academic success and emotional wellbeing of all students.
What Is Mindfulness?
Let’s start by defining mindfulness. While “mindfulness” actually refers to a collection of techniques that date back to ancient Buddhist practices, it is broadly understood as an awareness of one’s thoughts without any emotional attachment to those thoughts. Being mindful means that we allow thoughts to pass through our mind without struggling to control them; we view these thoughts as objectively as possible, without casting judgement or placing emotional value on their content.
Focus and Calm
This doesn’t mean that we attempt to turn off our emotions, of course! Rather, practicing mindfulness can help us stay calm and prevent us from being swept away by a busy mind — leaving us more mental space to focus on our work and experience positive emotions. Mindfulness is an important tool that students can use to improve emotional regulation and promote self-compassion.
Mindfulness and Learning
Mindfulness and metacognition are very closely related; approaching learning experiences mindfully enhances our ability to acquire new knowledge. Having a mindful perception of new information (for example, by observing that the information should be considered from multiple diverse perspectives), allows us to better remember, understand, and later use novel ideas. Promoting cognitive flexibility is one of the core principles of the SMARTS curriculum, and mindfulness is yet another tool that teachers and parents can use to foster effective learning experiences.
- David Gertz, SMARTS Intern
SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org
Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org
The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org