During the academic year 2017-18, we introduced Mindfulness as a practice in Primary School. We sat down with Miss Zoë L. Hauser, our Head of Primary, to understand what Mindfulness is and how it is incorporated into daily school life. What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the process of being focused on the present, being centred or grounded. There are many different practices, similar to meditation, that help us to pay attention to our breathing or to particular sounds or to the way we are walking or eating. In schools, it gives a few moments to put aside the worries, stresses that we might have experienced at home, on the school bus, or in a particular class and return to the present moment, be ready to focus on what is next. How is it introduced to students at B.D. Somani?
A committee of interested teachers was formed over the summer – they were given some reading material and did their own research. At a staff retreat in August, the committee shared a number of simple practices with all the staff. Most practices can be done in 3 – 5 minutes. Everyone immediately felt the benefits, so they were ready to introduce the practices to their students on the first day of school. In most classes, the children decide when they feel the need for a practice, and there may be a monitor who decides and leads the practice. There are many practices available online, and schools all over the world are now using Mindfulness on a regular basis. I attended a workshop last year, and a teacher was also sent to a Mindfulness workshop for teachers in Bangkok. What aids are used to enhance the understanding of this concept?
Many practices involve touching your body to feel the breathing, but other typical aids include Tibetan singing bowl, a bottle filled with glitter in water, a triangle or drum, a Mindfulness app on phones. What are the different kinds of Mindfulness exercises children are introduced to?
Quite a few. Lying down and feeling your abdomen move with the breathing. Shaking the glitter bottle and focusing on the glitter settling completely. Listening to the lingering sound of the Tibetan bowl. Tracing your fingers, one at a time – breathe in on the upward movement and out on the downward. Listening to the sounds of the app – might be gentle music, or sounds of nature, or a tone. Walking and focusing on each step, slowly. Putting a raisin or a piece of chocolate and avoid eating it – focus on its texture, smell, etc. and then very slowly eat it. What are the benefits of Mindfulness?
It calms everyone. It reminds us that we are in a community, in school, to work together. Puts other thoughts or worries away. Since it takes only a few minutes it can be practised at any time during the day. How can parents experience Mindfulness for themselves?
You can start with a simple, yet effective Mindful Breathing exercise. This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.
- Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
- Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and be at one with your breath.
- Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with life.
- Watch with your awareness as it works work its way up and out of your mouth and becomes one with the world.
How can parents support this initiative at home?
Many children have already taught the practices to their parents and encouraged them to use them. You can practice the breathing exercise explained above as a family. Another one you can try is the Mindful Jar, which you can download here. Do you have a Mindfulness practice that you have already embraced? We’d love to hear all about it. Tell us in the comments.