Dr. Deborah Cohen, School Counselor
Mindfulness is the ancient practice of focusing one’s attention on the present moment, breathing, and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness also emphasizes practicing kindness, compassion, gratitude and self-acceptance. People around the world have been practicing mindfulness for thousands of years, particularly as part of Eastern religions. In the last 40-50 years, however, mindfulness has been introduced to the West and has been scientifically studied. We now know from a growing body of research that mindfulness techniques can help children to focus their attention, calm down from strong emotions, relax and de-stress, and feel happier and more grateful. There is also scientific evidence that consistent mindfulness practice bolsters one’s immune system and overall physical health.
Since mindfulness is such a powerful tool with great potential for facilitating learning and emotional regulation, we have made it a goal at Oakwood to teach it and practice it with all of our students. Since the first week of school, I have been teaching a variety of mindfulness techniques with all of the children during my Social Affective classes. Together, we have learned and practiced mindfulness techniques such as Mindful Breathing, Mindful Listening, Body Scan Meditation, and Gratitude Meditation.
I am very pleased with how individual kids and whole teams have incorporated mindfulness into their daily lives. I have heard from many kids that they are using the breathing techniques to calm down when frustrated, angry or upset. Some have reported coaching friends and teammates outside of Oakwood in how to do Mindful Breathing! Teams 7 and 8 are keeping a daily gratitude journal and Teams 9 and 10 do a daily body scan before they start their school day. My hope is to introduce more mindfulness techniques as the year progresses and to help the students incorporate these valuable life skills into their everyday routine.
If you want to try mindfulness yourself or incorporate it into your family’s lifestyle, check out this short, but helpful how-to guide on a 5-Minute Breathing Meditation (https://www.mindful.org/a-five-minute-breathing-meditation/).
I wish you all calm, peace, and happiness!