The “missing piece” on education -

The “missing piece” on education

A lesson on mindfulness for teenagers

Right at the corner of the teenage years lays crouched the adult life. And while kids in school are getting the cognitive training, the algebra formulas and battle dates, none of this will take them by the hand through the real challenges of life, and all that is yet to come as they continue on their biological development.

Teenagers have to face the uncertainty and transitions that implies moving into an adult world, with new responsibilities and a life project to pursue. It’s well-known that some mental disorders have a direct impact on their social and academic life. If undetected, these problems can go worse with the pressure of school, and so, place them at risk for some more serious outcomes like depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide.

With an increasing number of students entering High School struggling to live happy and productive lives, the idea of a well-rounded education that involves more than academics is growing strong. Mindfulness and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) supports the belief that the education system must also involve learning experiences and skills related to social and emotional literacy, including the practice of mindfulness. LES it’s referred to as the “missing piece” in education and it’s a growing body of work that is being researched worldwide.

On the wonders of mindfulness for the brain

Mindfulness refers to a way of being and thinking that grows out of paying attention, consciously and without judgement, to what is happening in the present moment. To be mindful means to slow down deliberately and notice what is happening inside of us (feelings, body sensations and thoughts), and what is happening outside us, our environment. But what does mindfulness do to one of the most complex organs in the human body?

Leading neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson has demonstrated for decades that our brain is constantly growing and evolving. In fact, he coined the term neuroplasticity to describe the capacity of the brain to change throughout life. Davidson has also shown that mindfulness practice can change the brain and lead to a number of positive outcomes, like increased immunity, stress reduction, clearer thinking and better self-management. Another compelling reason to consider bringing mindfulness to the classrooms.

From Making a Case for Teaching Mindfulness to Youth , here’s the “How to” on mindfulness:

-Sit in a comfortable position, making sure the soles of your feet are connected to the ground or floor.

-Rest your hands on your thighs and let your shoulders drop.

-Gently close your eyes or look for a reference point somewhere on the floor where you can return your eyes when they get distracted and begin to wander around the room.

-Let your spine grow tall and noble like the trunk of a tall tree.

-Take a moment to notice how your body feels.

-Now bring your attention to the flow of your breath. You don’t need to breathe in a special way. Your body knows how to breathe. Simply notice each breath coming into the body with an in-breath, and leaving the body with an out-breath.

-If you notice your mind is caught up in thoughts, concerns, emotions or body sensations, know that this is normal.

-Notice what is distracting you and as kindly as you can, turn your attention back to your breath.

-Allow each in-breath to be a new beginning, and each out-breath a letting go.

-When you are ready, bring your attention back to the room.

This Article was originally written by Theo Koffler and published on the Huffington Post.