Mindfulness can be described as paying attention, with intention, openness, and curiosity, to the present moment, as it unfolds in our thoughts, felt emotions, and physical sensations. Mindfulness takes place now. Any and every given moment may be attended to and the practice of mindfulness awakens us to this possibility.
“ Research shows that in addition to benefits for adults, youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being.” ~MindfulSchools.org
For decades, the practice of mindfulness has been studied from both psychological and physiological perspectives. Growing bodies of evidence reveal that the benefits of mindful practice include: reduced stress and anxiety, increased ability for emotional regulation, improved ability to pay attention and focus, and expansion of our compassionate responses. Not surprisingly, people who experience the above changes report being happier and having improved interpersonal relationships. These behavioral benefits result from neuroplastic changes in the brain.
At SMS more than half of our faculty and staff have been supported in professional development studies through MindfulSchools.org. The coursework first establishes individual mindful practices and then guides teachers in age-appropriate curriculums for use in the classroom. In addition to all of our early childhood and lower school teachers’ use of mindfulness in the classrooms, our 3rd through 8th-grade students have weekly Health & Wellness classes with a focus on mindfulness practices. We believe that the earlier we introduce the concepts, language, and various ways of practicing mindfulness to students, the more likely students are to recognize the life tools provided in practice and continue their own explorations of mindfulness as part of taking care of themselves and growing into independent, healthy adolescents and adults.
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