During the last few years, schools’ interests in mindfulness have grown steadily due to its benefits. Indeed, more and more schools are now deciding to implement such practice in their educational settings in order to help children as well as school communities handle and manage their emotions.
Because of its positive effects and a professor’s recommendation, I decided to attend the International Retreat on Mindfulness in Education, which was held in Barcelona and during the 9th, 10th and 11th of May 2014. There, I was pleased to listen to Vietnamese Zen Monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who gave a talk about the notion of mindfulness, and learn how to bring mindfulness into our lives by participating in different workshops.
The following are some of the notes I wrote down while attending this excellent conference and workshops.
Mindfulness implies being aware of the present moment. Concentrating and just focusing on what we are doing at that specific moment and forgetting about the past and future. We should avoid thinking of what just happened or what I am going to do next, as this might only lead us towards anxiety. Furthermore, researchers have pointed out that feeling the present moment enhance the quality of our performances.
Mindfulness involves opening our box of happiness too. In other words, we should to try to find out our happiness inside us while doing the target activity, as by doing so we will have the strength to go on and overcome our boundaries.
Our body and movements is also an aspect we should pay attention to. We must feel our breath; breathe in very deeply and vice versa. Also our walking; feel how our foot touches the floor and gives us way towards the next step. To do so, we should pay attention to the pace in which we move. Indeed, most of us live in a middle of constant hurry and rush that we tend to overlook our movements. Whenever this happens to us, remember to slow down and breathe.
More often than not, we complain about our suffering without understanding why we have got it (autocompassion), when indeed pain could be reduced if we first tried to read it. That’s to say, we should listen to our suffering and find out its roots.
As teachers and especially as language teachers, it is necessary we put into practice such principles within the foreign language classroom. In fact, we should help children feel relaxed and at ease when learning a foreign language. Often, children feel anxious during the learning process, as they are not able to fully express in that target language and are not frequently praised for their efforts and advances. In that sense, the stress students’ encounter with during their learning process could be reduced if applying the mindfulness principles.
Here you will see a link with few resources to use in the classroom which I find very practical for children and even adults. Please, note they are not my own work; they are resources from other websites.
Six ways to teach mindfulness to children: