Mindfulness and meditation are often confused with relaxation techniques, however in their truest form the practices are about focused attention on the present moment, leading to a heightened awareness of one’s self and the world around. This is sometimes referred to as a state of ‘relaxed attention’. Through the practice of mindfulness we are able to achieve stillness and space within ourselves, counteracting the force of incessant thoughts with wise and considered action rather than impulsive behaviour. Mindfulness can be practised through silent or guided meditation (using a mantra, focusing on the breath or the sounds or objects around us), through focused physical activity such as yoga, walking or eating, and as part of our daily lives through our interactions with others and the world around us.
Regular mindfulness practice can help us ‘step back’ from situations and act with clarity, wisdom and perspective, rather than simply reacting in the heat of the moment. We are more able to focus on solutions rather than problems and to manage conflict and stress more effectively. This enables us to think and act with more awareness rather than just functioning and getting by. The positive effects of mindfulness are grounded not only in spiritual tradition, but in scientific fact. Whilst rooted in Buddhist philosophy, the practice of mindfulness is not dependent on a religious belief system. It is increasingly recognised in western psychology as an effective way of reducing stress and enhancing focus, self-awareness and emotional well-being; Mindfulness in Education is a growing movement in the UK.
Engaging young children with mindfulness requires an experienced approach that takes into account their shorter attention spans and emotional development. At The Dharma Primary School, mindfulness is integrated as a part of our wider commitment to Buddhist principles – See Mindfulness for Children and Buddhism.