Five Specific Ways to Integrate Mindfulness into the Classroom

Mindfulness in education is a rising topic of discussion.  Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as maintaining a non-judgmental approach to ones inner experience. It helps to develop emotional intelligence and it teaches students to pay attention on purpose.  What’s more, mindfulness can help improve test scores, classroom behaviors and stress management.
So how can teachers integrate mindfulness into the classroom?

 1) Teachers must practice mindfulness in their own lives.  If a teacher does not have the time to meditate and listen to his or her breath and thoughts, they can be mindful or present even while doing household chores.  For example, instead of quickly watering the plants while chatting on the phone.  One can pull themselves into the present and find the joy of offering plants sustenance.  Notice each plant and appreciate the beauty and contribution it makes to your home.

2)  Define and discuss mindfulness with your students.  Review the following vocabulary:

     ·      Imagination:  Imagination is the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.
     ·      Visualization: Visualization is the ability to create imaginary images within ones own head.  The mental pictures allow an individual to “see” past experiences, ideas or even future projections. 
     ·      Metacognition – Metacognition refers to the act of thinking about thinking, or the cognition of cognition. It is the ability to control your own thoughts.
     ·      Mindfulness: Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to your inner experience.
3) After recess guide your students through a mindfulness activity to calm their  senses.  Ask the students to sit for 3 minutes with their eyes closed.  They should notice their breath, release any thoughts and relax into their bodies.  You can start at their feet and work up to their head, asking them to be aware of their body and allow it to fully relax. 

4) Before a test, offer a mindful activity to help your students release any stress in their bodies.  Have the students take deep breaths and ask them to visualize a peaceful place of their choosing.  As they breathe in, have them imagine peace and knowledge filling their lungs.  As the breathe out, have them imagine that all negative thoughts such as doubt or concern will leave their bodies. 
5) After a classroom or social conflict, have the students sit in a circle facing one another holding hands.  Ask them to close their eyes and imagine that they are all one entity.  As they breathe in, have them imagine that they are pulling positive energy, forgiveness and loving kindness into the group.  As they breathe out, have them release any negative energy that they may feel.  You can make it specific to the situation.  After the activity, ask for volunteers to share any complements or appreciation they would like to offer to the group or an individual.  Have all the other students listen mindfully. 
Mindfulness works best if time is allocated daily.  Remember these activities will only take a few minutes and it can help your students to develop emotional intelligence, metacognitive skills, compassion, and confidence.  Finally, it will also help to nurture a sense of community in the classroom.

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