There seems to be an abundance of information in the media these days about mindfulness, or perhaps I am just more acutely aware of it since deciding to focus my career within the field of mindfulness training and meditation. Not precisely sure, but one thing I do know is that there is a growing movement to bring mindfulness training into the classrooms for kids and teachers.
Ah yes, I know what you are thinking. Here is one more thing for teachers to add to their already overloaded day that is filled with district requirements, parental inquiries, meetings and trainings. Plus the fact that many teachers are parents too and need to be there for their own children as well as all of ours. So, it would seem finding time to add one more requirement for kids developmental needs can indeed be daunting. Rightfully so.
In light of all that I am hesitant to say that all teachers should be trained in mindfulness practices, or that it be required of them, but I can certainly attest to the benefits it can and does bring to not only their lives but that of their students. Plus, it bares mentioning that parents who are trained in mindfulness skills can also learn ways to work with their children. I am not advocating mindfulness training as one more thing that teachers need do in order to teach our children so that we, as parents, don't have to take responsibility. Quite the contrary. It is something that all of us can benefit from both in and out of the classroom, workplace or home environment.
Let me give you an example of how a very mindful reaction to a most stressful occurrence played out recently in my son's life. He had been playing at a friend's house when suddenly one slipped foot later his head rebounded off a wooden cross beam on a play structure causing him to strike a sharp blow that made him fall to the ground. A good deal of blood started to deepen the surrounding snow making it look in my sons words, like a strawberry slushie. He was incredibly frightened as he thought perhaps his skull was cracked. He laid down in the snow, as his friend left a snowball behind and ran to get his mother for help. My son then placed this snowball on his head, as he waited for help to arrive. I could not have asked for more loving attention to my son in what I know was a most frightening scenario for her as well. Ty appeared OK after the wound was cleared of all the free flowing blood that had matted his incredibly thick head of hair. Luckily it seemed to not require stiches. My husband took him to an Urgent Care Center, just to make sure all was indeed OK, and it was, to all our great relief.
In bed that night, as my son and I were talking about the days events, I felt a sense of his security in knowing that all would be fine. It was at that moment and for the first time that day that I chose to bring up the question of fear. The timing felt right in that warm, safe environment of the bedroom. I asked him if he had been scared when it happened and if he could remember what he had been thinking about as it occurred. He said, without hesitation, that he had been very afraid and had even started to cry, but then he said to himself "I need to keep calm so I am going to think about my breath." Even writing this brings a waves of joyous wonder to my heart! To think that my son, who is 8, was able to take a most stressful situation that involved an injury at this point, unknown to him, and in that moment of of extreme fear, he had an inner resolve to keep calm and breathe! That was a truly sublime moment for me and a validation of all the mindfulness work that has gone into ensuring he has the ability to face the challenges of adulthood. After all, our primary job as parents is to get them prepared to face life. And not just academic or athletic preparedness, which I happen to think we often place far too much emphasis on as a benchmark for success in life, but emotionally capable. So while the story of my son may not have transpired at school, his use of mindfulness skills in a particularly stressful situation came in quite handy that day and can be easily transferred to any setting.
The University of California, San Diego, UCSD Center for Mindfulness, has launched an introductory training program for teachers that enables them to learn how to bring mindfulness into the classroom in a way that does not overburden or over extend their full day. Click on the link below for further information.
UCSD Mindfulness Training for Teachers
I know this is not the only place that is providing such training for teachers, in fact if you Google mindfulness teacher training for kids there are quite a number of resources that come up. Fact is, it is a movement that has taken more then a foot hold in this country, due to the tireless work of people like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli over at U Mass Medical School who have made it their life goal to provide information and worldwide exposure to mindfulness training so more and more people learn to implement these very simple and yet so meaningful methods into daily life.
If you know of a teacher who may be interested please take a moment or two to pass this information and link along to them as well.I can attest to the fact that the earlier you learn these skills the more they become a part of your daily life and WILL give kids some solid, tangible ways to face, what I consider to be some of the hardest moments in developing their young minds and bodies.
I told my son, after he shared his fear with me in that safe and most intimate moment before sleep, that I was so very proud of him for having recognized and keenly made a decision about how to calm himself in that terrifying present moment. I further told him if he can bring this same skill into his life as he continues to grow up that he will be able to handle a lot of what life has in store for him. He hugged me and that said it all!
By the way, mindfulness sounds so easy to many, but it can be most challenging a process to engage in on a daily basis. The more you practice however, the more it can become second nature, which is why teaching children is so vital to consider.