Right here, right nowOnce we start paying attention, we realize how our mind churns out, non-stop, all kinds of thoughts. Often they are worries about the past or the future, or fantasies in which we get lost. We also find that we often fall prey to powerful emotions (caused by our thoughts) that can manifest themselves in strong, physical sensations. Mindfulness teaches that our thoughts and emotions are not us: they are just mental events. Being mindful of them means observing them, rather than being governed by them. This does not mean rejecting our thoughts or emotions; it means taking control of our inner life and developing a better relationship with our experience.
Scientific evidenceMindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation, but it does not need to be some exotic, religious practice. Mindfulness in the West is often taught without its original religious framework. Rather, its basis is often scientific. Scientists discovered that the brain, just like muscles, can be affected by ‘training’. Mindfulness ‘training’, for example, thickens the areas of the brain that are associated with attention, memory and empathy, and shrinks the amygdale (the part of the brain that produces stress responses). Scientific studies have proven that Mindfulness is a useful tool to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and to better deal with pain and illness. They have also demonstrated that, besides reducing unwelcome states of mind, it also promotes positive ones such as emotional balance, inner peace, self-knowledge and altruism.
A growing trendThe teachers of Mindfulness in Australian schools claim that their students’ results support the scientific evidence. They found that, just like doing P.E. helps build a strong body, doing Mindfulness helps build a healthy mind. “Kids can’t flourish academically if they’ve got a stressed and anxious brain,” claimed the principal of one school that adopted the Mindfulness Curriculum. Another said that “teachers say students have been more productive in the classroom and more focused and calm, particularly after a session.” In addition to the 40,000 teachers now teaching the Mindfulness Curriculum in Australian schools, there are many more around the world that are doing the same. For example, Mindfulness has been taught for years in many schools in the UK and the US, from primary school all the way to university. Of course, as with any other school subject, for Mindfulness to work one needs to practice regularly. Just like your normal classes, such as English, Maths, Sciences, to do well you need to do your homework!
USEFUL WEBSITES 1) Read about the new Mindfulness Curriculum in Australian schools: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/mindfulness-makes-its-push-into-classrooms-via-gonski/news-story/6e1a538608d6b6691edc5c150e7659bf 2) Here is the Mindfulness Curriculum taught in Australian schools. You can even download the app! https://www.smilingmind.com.au/the-mindfulness-curriculum/ 3) Here are a couple of animated videos that explain the basics of Mindfulness meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjtfyuTTQFY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqoxYKtEWEc 4) Do you want to know more about Mindfulness? Check out this useful website and try one of the Mindfulness activities it offers: http://blissfulkids.com/ The same website also explains how Mindfulness works in the brain: http://blissfulkids.com/mindfulness-and-the-brain/ 5) Read about these Mindfulness stories about some American and British schools: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/nov/24/san-franciscos-toughest-schools-transformed-meditation https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/23/mindfulness-school-lessons-pupil-stress
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. A Mindfulness class teaches— (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: pixabay and flickr)
- how to sit up straight.
- facts and figures.
- personal and social skills.
- having one’s mind full of thoughts.
- paying attention to what goes on in one’s mind.
- following one’s thoughts and emotions.
- easy to control.
- very focused.
- easily distracted.
- control one’s thoughts and emotions.
- be controlled by one’s thoughts and emotions.
- shut out thoughts and emotions.
- is an exotic practice.
- has developed from Buddhist meditation.
- is Buddhist meditation.
- cannot change.
- responds to mental training.
- is a muscle.
- more stressed.
- less stressed.
- more attentive.
- scientists are right about Mindfulness.
- scientists should study Mindfulness.
- helps build a healthy mind.
- do well in school.
- have a healthy mind.
- don’t do well in school.
- the first country to teach Mindfulness in schools.
- is not the first country to teach Mindfulness in schools.
- is the third country to teach Mindfulness in schools, after the US and the UK.