Revolutionizing the School Systems By Using Positive Psychology
Open open the newspapers and listen to the media and you will learn that in 2018 there were 40 school shootings recorded and so far in 2019 there are 38 recorded incidents of violence occurring in our nation’s schools. ADHD is on the rise and approximately fifteen percent of school aged children have even diagnosed. On average every classroom with 30 students has 1 to 3 children diagnosed (many more undiagnosed.). How can we bring back harmony and positivity into our institutions and keep our children more focused. “Habits formed early in life will inform behaviors in adulthood, and with mindfulness, we have the opportunity to give our children the habit of being peaceful, kind and accepting.”(mindfulness for Children, Gelles, David, The NY Times . Annaka Harris, an author and a teacher of mindfulness , believes that mindfulness offers relief from whatever stressors they may be experiencing. Liz Kultze, in her article,How Meditation Works(Health July 27, 2013) writes,” In a practical sense, “sitting” is really all there is to the meditation aspect of mindfulness and meditation. For anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour or more each day, whether alone or in a group, you sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath as it moves in and out.Your mind will inevitably wander, which is where the mindfulness comes in. Instead of growing frustrated with your lack of focus or getting caught up in the web of your thoughts, you train yourself to observe the thought or emotion with acceptance and curiosity, and to calmly bring your focus back to your breath….mindfulness meditation is cognitive fitness with a human face or it’s a way to become familiar with your own mind…. The practice allows us to develop a stronger command over the machinery of our mind, a dexterity which according, to a study released this week, stays with you long after you finish meditating.
By using positive psychology we can revolutionize the educational system in our country. Let’s introduce mindfulness and meditation beginning in our pre schools. Instead of the curriculum and focus on learning ABC. let’s add M, mindfulness and meditation. Early intervention has become the slogan for the school systems. This is the time where children learn and develop. The first five years are critical for brain and nervous system development. Therefore by teaching mindfulness and meditation early in life can lead to a society that is less anxious, kinder, happier and more peaceful
What exactly is mindfulness meditation? Jon Kabat Zinn, in his research states” it is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment. Historically mindfulness has been called the heart of Buddhist meditation…. Mindfulness is often spoken of synonymously as insight, meditation, which means a deep penetrative nonconceptual seeing onto the nature of mind and world.”(Kabat-Zin, jon, Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Context: Past, Present, and Future.p.2-3) The next question really is, How do we explain mindfulness to a five year old? Dr. Amy Saltzman, a holistic physician and mindfulness coach, invites the child to feel the experience first-to find their still quiet place..” We begin by paying attention to breath, the feeling of the expansion of the in breath the stillness between the in breath and the out breath. I invite them to rest in the space between the breaths.Then she explains that the still quiet place is always with us-when we’re sad happy, angry excited or frustrated. They can feel it in their bodies. And it becomes a felt experience or awareness. They can learn to observe their thoughts and feelings, and the biggest thing is they can choose their behaviors.”(Garey Jiliann. The Power of Mindfulness.)
Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan, in their research, The Benefits of Being Present:Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being, state, “Recent research has shown that the enhancement of mindfulness through training facilitates a variety of well-being outcomes(e.g.Kabat-Zinn. 1990)..Mindfulness may be important in disengaging, individuals from automatic thoughts, habits and unhealthy behavior patterns and thus could play a key role in fostering informed and self endorsed behavioral regulation which has long been associated with well being enhancement. Further by adding clarity and vividness to experience, mindfulness may also contribute to well-being and happiness in a direct way.’(p.822-823)
How can this be implemented? Let me simplify. In a New York Times article, What Is Mindfulness, and why do kids need it ?, by David Gelles , he writes, that mindfulness can help minimize anxiety and boost happiness.”Mindfulness is a simple technique that emphasizes paying attention to the present moment, in an accepting and non judgmental manner. This has emerged as a popular mainstream practice in recent decades. It’s being taught to executives at corporations, athletes in the locker room and increasingly to children both at home and in school. “(Gellis, Davidp.2) Children are the perfect ones to be taught this practice. It is proven that habits formed early in life will continue into adulthood. We are giving our children a chance of a future of kindness, peace and acceptance. Another reason why children make the best candidates for mindfulness is because of the manner in which the brain develops. It is true that the brain is constantly developing, however the prefrontal circuits are created at the fastest speed in childhood. “Mindfulness, which promotes skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, like focus and cognitive control, can therefore have a particular impact on the development of skills including self regulation, judgment and patience during childhood.”(Gelles, David. p.2)
Older children can reap the benefits of mindfulness. In fact around the U.S. today schools have begun to implement it into the main curriculum. Studies have shown that mindfulness has been successful with students diagnosed with Adhd. it has shown to reduce aggression, anxiety and stress. Another study showed that students that took part in a four month course showed improvement in cognitive control, working memory and math test scores.(Gellis, David, p. 10)
Natalie Prouix, in a New York Times article( February 7, 20190 , Should Schools
Teach Mindfulness? She poses this question. She cites that schools in England have introduced this in their curriculum to address mental health problems in young people. The government said the study, will run until 2021 and is one of the largest of int kind in the world. The goal of this program is to study and learn what is the best approach for youngsters to deal with adversity and challenges they face. Damian Hinds, the British Secretary of Education,said, “Children will start to be introduced gradually to issues around mental health, well-being and happiness right from the start of primary school. Everyday our front line services see children and teenagers struggling to get to grips with how they fit into the increasingly complex modern world-contending with things like intense pressure at school, bullying or problems at home, all while being bombarded by social media.”(Prouix, Natalie, p.2)
An elementary school in Baltimore replaced detention with meditation and it yielded incredible results. In 2016 the school began a Mindful Meditation Room,, which replaced the detention room. The goal was to help students with anxiety and stress. This was implemented by the Holistic Life foundation. The results were positive.” Suspension rates in the school were lowered. Some of the students mentioned how the program changed their lives. For example, If they were taking a test they would just start taking deep breaths, in the midst of noise, they would meditate to tune out all the noise and become one with themselves. And the best part-it actually helped them build their character. One of the students recalled that in the midst of a conflict with their parents, they were about to lose their cool when they remembered the breathing techniques. After breathing in and out- the anger was gone.”(Saha, Mayukh/ Truth Theory.)
“The educational system provides children with cognitive training ,students are mostly on their own to manage the emotional ups and downs that are part of their biological development.The time is ripe for a type of education that serves the development of the whole person. Mindfulness does just that. .It is the missing piece in education and is a growing body of work that is being researched worldwide.”(Koffler, Theo. Making a Case For Teaching Mindfulness in School.) Let’s reach out to our politicians and demand that nationwide we change the curriculum and introduce Mindful meditation in our schools.
Author: Rena Laniado Advocate