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Teaching Mindfulness - a Benefit

  1. Jan 19, 2014 #1

    Astronuc

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    “Before we can teach a kid how to academically excel in school, we need to teach him how to have stillness, pay attention, stay on task, regulate, make good choices,” said Larochette. “We tell kids be quiet, calm yourself down, be still. We tell them all these things they need in the classroom, but we’re not teaching them how to do that.”

    http://mindfullifeproject.org/

    I could have used something like that 40+ years ago. I was very distracted in school.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2014 #2

    atyy

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    I assume when they say yoga, they mean the non-religious version?
     
  4. Jan 19, 2014 #3

    Pythagorean

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    That's the most likely interpretation of the word when the project is based out of California, USA.
     
  5. Jan 19, 2014 #4

    Astronuc

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    I believe they are referring to the meditative function.
     
  6. Jan 19, 2014 #5

    Choppy

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    I really like the idea of teaching kids how to calm themselves - particularly since this is something that's requested of them quite often. And there's nothing more frustrating than repeatedly being told to do something you don't know how to do - even more so when you can't articulate the fact that you need some instruction.

    That said, the skeptic in me is very suspicious, particularly if you have to pay for this service. What evidence do they have that this works and how does it compare to other modalities that target the same issue? I think a lot of attention deficit issues (not speaking of the medical disorder) result from (a) extreme exposure to attention-grabbing media and instant gratification media, and (b) a lack of physical activity. Given the reduction in physical education time most schools have seen over the past few decades, I can't help but wonder if this might be time better spent on getting the kids to play a game of floor hockey.

    Also, something on the website that caught my attention was this idea of taking a group of kids who'd had discipline problems and mixing them in with a group of kids who were generally seen to excel. During my school years I was involved in a number of such initiatives because, for whatever reason, I guess I didn't have many discipline issues and got good marks. But I always felt like they dragged me down (not to mention put me in a position to be bullied).
     
  7. Jan 20, 2014 #6

    Pythagorean

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    In my experiences as a parent, it's more or less implied that if you want your children to react calmly, you have to react calmly. If you're always getting excited about them spilling water, then they're going to pick up that behavior, but if you react calmly and reasonably to their behavior, then that's the habit they'll pick up.

    Outside time is good too, but setting a good example seems to have a large impact.
     
  8. Jun 22, 2015 #7
    What many teachers fail to understand is that children have a very limited vision of the world they live in. So much content on TV overwhelms them. The first lesson of any curriculum should focus on motivation of the subject being taught; real life explanations and stories relating to a wide knowledge of the the subject. They need to know the benefits of the knowledge, to them individually, if you want them to participate fully. This may require a little homework on the teacher's behalf but it will be well rewarded in the future lessons. Motivation has to be sold to the students!
     
  9. Jun 22, 2015 #8

    WWGD

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    You should have seen this mom shouting at her hyperactive kid the other day : Relax!!!! The kid is going to have
    a serious misunderstanding of the word 'relax'.
     
  10. Jun 22, 2015 #9
    Mindfulness is a helpful way to practice yoga. It is what you would hope to achieve. There are other ways, I particularly practice Rinzai Zendo. Its a seated and walking meditation technique that is all about mindfulness. What all mindfulness activities have in common is breathe counting, that's the most fundamental aspect of it. I don't know if it really works or its a placebo effect, but it had made a dramatic effect on my focus in my life. I have read conflicting research about its effect on things like blood pressure and attention deficit disorder ranging from its scientifically founded to its a hipster fad. Again I can't speak to tangible validity but I know it is not a fad, people have been practicing this kind of mindfulness in ancient times. There is a great book by the Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh called The Miracle of Mindfulness that is considered the modern go to book about mindfulness.
     
  11. Jun 23, 2015 #10

    Drakkith

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    As someone with ADHD and who sees a psychologist regularly, this is an infuriating fact. There's little to no clear evidence either way.
    I've tried to do some meditating in the past, as recommended by my psychologist, but I swear the entire thing just got more difficult to do as time went on.
     
  12. Jun 23, 2015 #11

    cobalt124

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    I'm not sure mindfulness will work in schools, as has been said, adults setting the appropriate example would seem to me to be far more effective. Speaking personally, practising mindfulness has kept me depression free for about eleven years now and has greatly improved many areas of my life. Paying attention to experiencing what is in the present moment has helped me no end. I've also been diagnosed with OCD, and I've found that "doing" CBT or meditation or whatever never worked for me, it's about experiencing rather than doing.
     
  13. Jun 23, 2015 #12

    Drakkith

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    What do you mean?
     
  14. Jun 24, 2015 #13
    I had a slight HD when I was around 8, but I played a lot of sports and practiced soft talking, and I got much better. Shouldn't physical activity be promoted first, and these meditative techniques second (especially for elementary and middle schoolers, as their age is perfect for forming good habits)? Most of the time, younger kids don't pay attention because they consume high sugar milkshakes and a ton of other junk, experience energy overloads (although comically, many energetic ones who proclaim they can run around the world won't be able to sprint one mile) and dump all that fizz (pun intended) into video games (and the award for raising unproductivity in school this year goes to the J#$I's Pizza store round the block!).
     
  15. Jun 24, 2015 #14

    cobalt124

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    I'm finding it hard to explain what I mean in the limited time I have. On the rare occasions I have spare time I do a mindfulness breathing exercise, I pay full attention to what I feel and experience in breathing and nothing else. I don't even do it regularly or consciously practice it, but doing so relaxes me, clears my mind, changes my perspectives, improves my thought processes. My outlook on life has improved immensely, and the start of this was mindfulness practice. I can't see any other reason.
     
  16. Jun 24, 2015 #15
    In my short time teaching I've noticed that, from the small sample size at my school, anxiety and depression seems to be on the increase. One of our teachers offers a mindfulness class and also takes three minutes at the beginning of each regular class to lead the students through some breathing which seems to help center the students and get them ready to focus (to what extent that lasts for an 75 minute class, I'm not sure).

    I'm not sure to what extent this practice has had an effect on the students, but it certainly can't hurt. Even if the effect isn't immediate at least the students are aware of such practice that they can call upon later if they feel the need.
     
  17. Jun 24, 2015 #16

    WWGD

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    This guy's book:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Now

    Elaborates on it ( I have not read it; only excerpts), though he does use some religious background, but I think only as
    a reference. Pain comes from living in the past or future and the assumption that we have control over our lives.
     
  18. Jun 24, 2015 #17
    It does kind of have the ring of pop-psychobabble to it, but I've been struggling with ADHD my entire life and learning mindfulness techniques was quite likely the most important thing I ever did. I regret greatly that it couldn't have happened before I was already in college and having academic struggles.

    There was nothing religious, spiritual, or New Age about it in principle. My psychiatrist specializes in teenagers and young adults with learning disabilities and I explained that medication was helping immensely but not going far enough on its own no matter how much we changed the dosage or prescription or went back and forth between instant and extended-release formulations, so he signed me up for an experimental program at the hospital.

    We didn't do any yoga or meditation as a direct part of the class. It was about things like learning the signs of when your attention is slipping and responding to slipping attention effectively, knowing when you need a study break, and knowing what it feels like to be engaged with your work and how to get yourself there. If I had to put it in a few words, from my experience I would say that mindfulness training is about the idea that focus is a skill that can be learned and improved through training.

    Yoga was presented as kind of the go-to training that was given to us as homework, but it was only a suggestion. You're supposed to do something that requires you to focus on something for a long period of time but doesn't strain your ability to focus and that doesn't offer many opportunities for distraction. Practicing a musical instrument was also something a lot of people went with, so I did a bit of that (and ended up becoming a damn good ocarina player...don't ask), but I mostly went with bike riding (since I usually go on 2 or 3 hour trips that don't offer me the ability to just go right home when I'm bored). Video games could work too, if they're the kind that require a lot of focus (think old-school side-scroller level of engagement)

    You do that, and you pay attention to how it feels to be focused and what it feels like when you're making an effort to stay engaged with a task, and then you try to take that understanding and generalize it to progressively more difficult tasks. It ended up helping me enormously, and I think it's something everyone could gain at least some benefit from.

    I would comfortably say that there is a place for it in schools, but it's far from the only thing we should be doing to improve the quality of schools and student outcomes in the US. And I also would never suggest it be used as a first-line treatment option for ADHD, because I've seen people go so far as to offer it as an alternative to medication, which is ridiculous. Medication is what enables mindfulness in the first place.
     
  19. Jun 24, 2015 #18

    Drakkith

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    I tried this every day for about 2 to 3 weeks. I still have no idea what I felt or experienced while breathing and it was extraordinarily difficult to stay focused. It's like there was nothing there to focus on. Just... vagueness. I found the entire exercise actually became more difficult to do at the end of the 2 to 3 weeks than at the beginning.
     
  20. Jun 24, 2015 #19

    WWGD

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    I don't think you're expected to be focused; just listen to your breathing without reacting, without interpreting, without analyzing; I think that is the idea.

    FWIW, this is my take: the mind tends to, by default, make sense of incoming stimuli/input. But there is often overload of input coming in, which ends up in some sort of queue, waiting to be processed and incorporated into the knowledge/understanding base. The process of meditating just slows down the generation of new data/input to be analyzed, allowing whatever is in the queue to be processed. I don't have data to support this, but it is an opinion I have arrived at through analysis.
     
  21. Jun 24, 2015 #20

    Drakkith

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    But it takes focus to do all that and keep your mind from wandering. Which is what mine does.
     
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