Alongside reading, writing and arithmetic, there are calls for mindfulness and meditation to be adopted as a formal part of the school curriculum. In a time when our children are busier than ever with homework, extracurricular activities and the bombardment of social media, advocates for the programme believe that teaching mindfulness will help children’s emotional development as well as increase their learning capability.
Mindfulness has been found to help focus attention and have the potential to enhance both teacher and student wellbeing. In the UK, the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) has already been adopted in a large number of schools, with positive results.
Results of a recent study showed that children who participated in MiSP reported fewer depressive symptoms post-treatment, along with lower stress and greater wellbeing. In Australia, mindfulness programs have been adopted in several schools including Warranwood Primary School in Victoria. Students do five-minute meditations two
to three times a day, and are taught positive social skills as part of the programme. “We are finding it working amazingly well, and learning time is more productive,” says assistant principal Shane Harrop.
Outside of schools, mindfulness and meditation practices are being adopted in prisons, workplaces and cinemas. The practice has been found to be helpful in treating PTSD in veterans. “Breathing-based meditation appears to be particularly beneficial for PTSD given that the condition is characterised by hyper-arousal and difficulties managing emotions,” explains Dr Michelle Buchholz, psychology services director at veteran support charity Soldier On.
Mindfulness, practised either through meditation or yoga, connects a person to their body. “For veterans, this increased awareness can help reduce the hyper-arousal brought on by PTSD more quickly and effectively.” Buchholz says. These instances serve as examples of how clinicians and psychologists can consider mindfulness practices as part of a whole body approach when treating patients.
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