Children are amazing because they are mindful. When a child is shy they may express their feelings of shyness without fear, they are just ‘being’. They may be open to and aware of what they are experiencing in that moment without repression. Children start life inherently mindful and through their experiences they learn to cooperate, to collaborate, to consider, to understand and to empathise becoming socially aware and responsible adults.
However this journey in our modern world of fast pace, distraction, complexity and technology can lead to a person becoming disconnected from himself or herself, their
experiencing and from others, a mindlessness. How can a person truly know another and give freely of himself or herself, if they do not know themself first? What if children were encouraged to grow and develop mindful awareness throughout their childhood into adulthood? How would those adults be different? More ‘in tune’? More connected? More giving? Happier?
Research describes mindfulness as a moment-by-moment “awareness of present experience with acceptance” (Germer, Seigel and Fulton, 2013, p.7) or an “awareness that
emerges through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, non-judgementally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003, p.145).
Studies have linked mindfulness with reduced; anxiety and depression (Shapiro et al, 1998), mood disturbance (Rozenweig et al, 2003) and increased; wellbeing (Grepmair et al, 2007), nonjudgmental self-insight (Chung, 1990), empathy, compassion and selfcompassion (Neff, 2003; Neff and Germer, 2013; Shapiro et al, 2007), openness and
acceptance (Bishop et al, 2004) and attention regulation, emotional regulation and psychological flexibility (Hözel et al, 2011; Hayes et al, 1999).
Amazing Me (and Molly)
Molly is child in a UK school who faces challenges everyday. Molly has challenging learning, speech and family circumstances and can get overwhelmed by information,
noise, pressure and the pace of the world she is in. Perhaps we may all feel like Molly for different reasons at some point in life? Molly and her class with Seahorse Education Partnerships CIC developed Amazing Me, a 35 week program of online mindful positive psychology interventions for children and teachers that are designed to be incorporated into any curriculum with minimal training. The programme covers a range of positive psychology areas including mindfulness, strengths, emotions, kindness, gratitude and wellbeing using creative and engaging activities, animations and guided mindfulness practices such as our ‘mindful S.E.L.F.I.E.’
STOP: Stop what you are doing and pause.
EYES: Look, what do you see now that didn’t see before?
LISTEN: Ears, what can you hear now that couldn’t before?
FEELING: What are you feeling right now?
Teachers are supported with lesson plans, vocabulary, an interactive forum to share ideas with other schools and online help. Molly is growing and enjoying school, she is learning to face her challenges mindfully and with a smile.
Be at your best and get the best from others
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Germer, C. K., & Neff, K. D. (2013). Self-compassion in clinical practice. Journal of clinical psychology, 69(8), 856-867.
Germer, C., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (Eds.). (2016). Mindfulness and psychotherapy. Guilford Publications.
Grepmair, L., Mitterlehner, F., Loew, T., Bachler, E., Rother, W., & Nickel, M. (2007). Promoting mindfulness in psychotherapists in training influences the treatment results of their patients: A randomized, double-blind, controlled study. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 76(6), 332-338.
Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change. Guilford Press.
Hölzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on psychological science, 6(6), 537-559.
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Rosenzweig, S., Reibel, D. K., Greeson, J. M., Brainard, G. C., & Hojat, M. (2003). Mindfulness-based stress reduction lowers psychological distress in medical students. Teaching and learning in medicine, 15(2), 88-92.
Shapiro, S. L., Brown, K. W., & Biegel, G. M. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the mental health of therapists in training. Training and education in professional psychology, 1(2), 105.
Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E., & Bonner, G. (1998). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students. Journal of behavioral medicine, 21(6), 581-599.
Sibinga, E. M., Perry-Parrish, C., Chung, S. E., Johnson, S. B., Smith, M., & Ellen, J. M. (2013). Schoolbased mindfulness instruction for urban male youth: A small randomized controlled trial. Preventive medicine, 57(6), 799-801.