By Dr Maxine Thérèse
I recently returned from a trip to the UK where I was delighted to see how accepted meditation, mindfulness and movement practices are in schools.
Based on evidence into the success of meditation and mindfulness in schools, the UK government has invested in a trial which will see students from 370 schools participate in meditation and mindfulness classes alongside classroom sessions with mental health experts.
While this is the first time the government has contributed funds, the UK has been running these types of programs in schools via independent providers for well over 10 years and there are over 5000 trained teachers delivering mindfulness in schools across the country.
Why are we not doing the same?
Meditation, mindfulness and movement is so important for our children to connect to themselves on a deeper level, to truly understand their feelings, behaviours and thoughts.
Studies have shown that mediation and mindfulness in schools improves concentration, develops self-regulation and decreases heightened emotions and reactivity in the classroom. These practices reduce stress and anxiety, and teach our little ones to listen to the messages their body is sending them.
These benefits also extend past the classroom. If children are exposed to these practices from a young age, then we are setting them up for an optimal future where they move through life with ease and an understanding of their behaviours.
Our children need to be able to ‘feel’ all of their feelings; to process experiences in an optimal way that makes sense to them and helps them uncover what they need. When children are given the opportunity to know themselves in this way, they begin to move through life with ease rather than feel restricted.
A large part of feeling at ease in life is developing acceptance of all of the feelings, thoughts and emotions that arise without judging them as good or bad. When children (and adults) have emotional acceptance and body awareness it brings ease, confidence, spontaneity, pleasure, and celebration into their life.
While I have been fortunate to work with schools that are embracing the introduction of these practices, we are ready for a meditation, mindfulness and movement program on a national level. With the steep increase of mental health issues every year in our young people, it is vital that we embrace new thinking and incorporate new methodologies into the school curriculum – as what we are currently doing is not setting our young people up to live life as optimally as they could be.
“An emotionally aware child truly is, a free child.”