Infusing Mindfulness and Presence with Students

By Mrs. Kari Miller

Are you present in your day-to-day life, or do you go through the motions only to ask yourself, what has happened in the last days, months, years? In the rush of our lives, it is easy to let our minds fill with thoughts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That is why it is important to use mindfulness practice in our daily lives. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and acknowledging one’s feelings and emotions.

In the lower school, we use mindfulness practices on a daily basis with our children. This means we teach and discuss with students the importance of being in touch with our emotions and use strategies of breathing to regulate our emotions and minds. Throughout the day, teachers and students take breaks to quiet their minds through breathing exercises.  For example, at the start of the day as the lower school students gather in the gym with teachers and classmates, we many times take three mindful breaths before moving upstairs to begin our day. As you pass by classrooms, one can hear teachers guiding students through mindful moments which empowers all to be aware of current thoughts, behaviors, and presence. This practice helps students focus their thoughts and ground their thinking.

Mrs. Miller reads I am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde to students as part of their study of mindfulness. 

The teachers of the lower school study mindfulness and develop their own mindfulness practice in order to share this important life-long skill with students. Many lower school teachers have taken courses through Mindful Schools, and a committee of teachers share materials and lead their peers in activities during faculty meetings. As a faculty we have developed a culture where we are aware of the impact of our focused attention. This means that we think less about what will happen next and more about what is happening in the moment. In the words of mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”

When I think of mindfulness, I think less of the mind being full and more about calming the mind in order be in touch with experiences, emotions, and thoughts. Simplicity in thinking, feeling, and doing establishes a culture of success and empowerment for students. I have found the benefits of refining my own mindfulness practice to be more present at school and at home. Are you interested in learning how to use mindfulness with your day? From the website Mindful Families, I invite you to look at Mindfulness Practices for Parents for ideas for how you can incorporate mindfulness into your family life.