Mindfulness practices on East Campus support wellness and self-awareness
Naomi Kelly, Former Head of Child Safeguarding, UWCSEA
11 November 2015
"The world is all abuzz right now about Mindfulness." It was with this quote from Williams and Penman’s (2011) book Mindfulness: An eight week plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World that we began promoting the practice of Mindfulness with Administration staff at East Campus in April. The participants were keen to understand the term that is being embraced by students and parents across the College. Whether through the PACE mindfulness programme that was offered earlier this year for parents, activities in Primary School such as ‘Calm Confidence,’ ‘Yoga Bugs’ or ‘Breathing Buddies’, the Grade 8 Life Skills ‘.b’ programme or High School PSE, the practice of mindfulness meditations and an enhanced awareness of the moment is blossoming.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment with an open mind, curiosity and acceptance. It has been shown to improve health and wellbeing (Mindfulness in Schools Project, 2015), memory, faster reaction times and increased physical and mental stamina (Williams and Penman, 2011).
Many of our Primary School teachers have participated in Mindful Schools programmes, have their own Mindfulness practices and implement strategies in their classrooms. One of the Grade 3 teachers, Jaki Graham, hosted a Wednesday afternoon professional development session for Primary teachers earlier in the year. It was an opportunity to share ideas and many teachers left the session having experienced some simple mindful practices that they could use with their classes, as well as resources to access further support.
One of the more powerful benefits of mindfulness that we have seen is when students become more aware of themselves and their thoughts, whether they are in the past, the future or the present. Having the choice and the ability to redirect their attention to the present, enables them to focus for longer periods on whatever they are doing at that moment, whether learning, playing, talking, listening or just relaxing!
In addition to a lunchtime Mindfulness Activity, Middle School Counsellor, Cindy Tisdall-McPhee has been facilitating the .b Mindfulness program as a component of the Grade 8 Life Skills curriculum. Alongside Life Skills teachers Marianne Yong-Macdonald and Nadine Mains, students have been able to engage in the nine-week Stop. Breathe and Be program from the United Kingdom’s Mindfulness in Schools Project.
Weare (2012) in her research for Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People found that “adolescents who are mindful, either through their character or through learning, tend to experience greater well-being, and that being more mindful tends to accompany more positive emotion, greater popularity and having more friends, and less negative emotion and anxiety (Weare, K., 2012, p 2).” With evidence such as that, the High School PSE programme has also embraced mindfulness. Opportunities to practise mindfulness meditations are expanding and currently include sessions with the boarding community in Tampines House as well as a much anticipated Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program with staff beginning in the new academic year.
References and resources:
Weare, Katherine. (2012) Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People. .b The Mindfulness in Schools Project in association with the University of Exeter Mood Disorder Centre.
Williams, M. and Penman, D. (2011) Mindfulness: An eight week plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Rodale Inc. USA.