Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Mindfulness and Meditation in Schools: Mindful Kids, Peaceful Schools

News of Rei­d­man’s pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence spread to oth­er class­es at the school and helped launch Kaiser’s career as the founder and direc­tor of a new non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion: InnerKids. Fund­ed through pri­vate grants, its mis­sion is to teach mind­ful aware­ness prac­tices to stu­dents in pub­lic and pri­vate schools for lit­tle or no cost. In the last five years, the orga­ni­za­tion has served hun­dreds of schools across the coun­try and has grown to the point where there’s more demand for the pro­gram than Kaiser can han­dle alone. Recent­ly, she retired from her suc­cess­ful law prac­tice to devote her­self ful­ly to InnerKids. She’s now busy train­ing new teach­ers. “Requests come from all over New York, Cal­i­for­nia, the Mid­west,” says Kaiser. “It’s real­ly amaz­ing how this has caught on.”

A 2004 sur­vey of mind­ful­ness pro­grams by the Gar­ri­son Insti­tute in New York an orga­ni­za­tion that stud­ies and pro­motes mind­ful­ness and med­i­ta­tion in edu­ca­tion showed that many schools are adopt­ing mind­ful­ness train­ings because the tech­niques are easy to learn and can help chil­dren become “more respon­sive and less reac­tive, more focused and less dis­tract­ed, [and] more calm and less stressed.” While mind­ful­ness can pro­duce inter­nal ben­e­fits to kids, the Gar­ri­son report also found that it can cre­ate a more pos­i­tive learn­ing envi­ron­ment, where kids are primed to pay atten­tion.

InnerKids is one of sev­er­al mind­ful­ness edu­ca­tion pro­grams that have sprout­ed up around the coun­try; oth­ers include the Impact Foun­da­tion in Col­orado and the Lin­eage Project in New York City, which teach­es mind­ful­ness to at risk and incar­cer­at­ed teenagers. Like these pro­grams, Kaiser’s cur­ricu­lum was inspired by the work of Jon Kabat Zinn, the founder of the Stress Reduc­tion Pro­gram at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mass­a­chu­setts Med­ical School. Kabat Zinn was among the first sci­en­tists to rec­og­nize that mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion might have heal­ing ben­e­fits for adult patients suf­fer­ing from chron­ic pain. He devel­oped a sec­u­lar ver­sion of the Bud­dhist prac­tice, which he called Mind­ful­ness Based Stress Reduc­tion (MBSR), and ran stud­ies demon­strat­ing its effec­tive­ness. Now, with over a thou­sand stud­ies pub­lished in peer review jour­nals about it, Kabat Zin­n’s MBSR pro­gram has been found to reduce not only chron­ic pain but also high blood pres­sure and cho­les­terol lev­els. Evi­dence also sug­gests MBSR can help improve one’s abil­i­ty to han­dle stress and alle­vi­ate depres­sion, anx­i­ety, post trau­mat­ic stress, and eat­ing dis­or­ders.

Despite the suc­cess of MBSR with adults, there has been lit­tle cor­re­spond­ing research on chil­dren, though that’s start­ing to change. At the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia in Cana­da, psy­chol­o­gist Kim­ber­ly Schon­ert Reichl and a grad­u­ate stu­dent, Mol­ly Stew­art Lawlor, recent­ly fin­ished a pilot project on mind­ful­ness in schools, with fund­ing and teacher train­ing pro­vid­ed by the Bright Lights Foun­da­tion (now called the Goldie Hawn Insti­tute), an orga­ni­za­tion found­ed by actress and chil­dren’s advo­cate Goldie Hawn. Fourth through sev­enth graders in six Van­cou­ver pub­lic schools were instruct­ed in mind­ful aware­ness tech­niques and pos­i­tive think­ing skills, then test­ed for changes in their behav­ior, social and emo­tion­al com­pe­tence, moral devel­op­ment, and mood.

The pos­i­tive response to the pro­gram was almost imme­di­ate. “In one class­room, the chil­dren went from hav­ing the most behav­ioral prob­lems in the school as mea­sured by num­ber of vis­its to the prin­ci­pal’s office to hav­ing zero behav­ioral prob­lems, after only two to three weeks of instruc­tion,” says Schon­ert Reichl. Her results also showed that these chil­dren were less aggres­sive, less oppo­si­tion­al toward teach­ers, and more atten­tive in class. Those who received the mind­ful­ness train­ing also report­ed feel­ing more pos­i­tive emo­tion and opti­mism, and seemed more intro­spec­tive than chil­dren who were on a wait­list for the train­ing. “It’s impor­tant to do research like this because kids need some­thing to cope with all the pres­sures at school,” says Schon­ert Reichl. “If we don’t find some­thing to help them, there are going to be tremen­dous health costs for these kids down the road.”

Keep read­ing…

Leave a Reply...

Loading Facebook Comments ...

29 Responses

  1. E. Okamoto says:

    Thank you so much for this arti­cle. I live and teach in Japan and would love it if there could be such a des­ig­nat­ed pro­gram — (espe­cial­ly since med­i­ta­tion tra­di­tion is so root­ed here). I teach a lot of anx­ious kids who have over­loaded sched­ules and high aca­d­e­m­ic pres­sures, and they could real­ly use an oppor­tu­ni­ty to just stop and be aware of one thing, such as the breath…I’ve made them stop and stretch a bit when they get stressed, and it’s helped quite a bit to get them back on track. Thanks again!

  2. Michael Levy says:

    Let Joy be your feel­ings, Love your attire, Peace your guide and you will dis­cov­er a mys­ti­cal par­adise here on earth.

  3. Binaifer Karanjia says:

    In India, and i believe in some pris­ons in
    Amer­i­ca, yoga asanas (pos­tures) are taught which specif­i­cal­ly release tox­ins in the body. Over a peri­od of time, the qual­i­ty and con­tent of the mind can be mod­i­fied and changed for the pos­i­tive. Just for your inter­est: Shasank asana or the rab­bit pose, if done three times in the morn­ing, after­noon and evening for sev­er­al days rids all feel­ings of anger and irri­ta­tion. Amaz­ing .…do try and see for your­self! Like this, there are so many oth­er asanas for dif­fer­ent needs.

  4. Stress man­age­ment is nec­es­sary for phys­i­cal and men­tal health. Prop­er hor­mone bal­ance is nec­es­sary for stress man­age­ment. I found a web­site very use­ful with its infor­ma­tion on stress man­age­ment.

Leave a Reply

Categories: Education & Lifelong Learning

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Search in our Archives

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

Watch All Recordings Now (40+ Speakers, 12+ Hours)