For the next few weeks, we at FlexSchool are focusing on Mindfulness Training during our FlexFriday sessions. Like many of you, we were unfamiliar with this term, and our trainer, John Grund, offered a simple yet profound definition. Mindfulness is being aware of every moment of your life as if your life depended on it, in short. We need to be aware of our breathing and of our thoughts as well as our feelings. We have chosen to engage in this practice so that our students (and staff!) can learn to manage anxiety and stress and also enhance their day-to-day living experiences. (Do you get road rage? Annoyed with your kids or parents? This helps!) Read on for a summary of the definition from one of the institutions dedicated to mindfulness, UC Berkeley.
Throughout our session, we went out of our comfort zone through “challenge by choice”. We participated in introductory ice-breakers revealing the origins of our names and then we had a fun hula hoop activity which required no verbal communication at first. We learned to breathe mindfully and discussed the science behind the importance of breathing properly. John gave us a model of the “hand-brain” and we watched a short video regarding the chemicals involved in mindfulness. We also learned to S.T.O.P. (not necessarily at stop signs, but that works): Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed. We were introduced to a great app, headspace, which can assist in our mindfulness exercises. We are excited to see what John challenges us to do in the next two weeks.
From UC Berkeley’s site
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond.
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