As educators and parents, we know that students learn best when they feel physically and emotionally safe, when they are engaged in learning, and when they are connected to a larger community. It is for these reasons that Dawson’s 2014 Strategic Plan includes an intentional emphasis on the social and emotional well being of students. I believe that schools can be deliberate in teaching students how to become independent and to manage the many competing priorities in their lives. We can teach them, and ourselves, how to slow down and manage stress and/or anxiety through the practice of what is known generally as mindfulness.
According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley (Greater Good), mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and surrounding environment. One way of doing this is through the regular practice of meditation. The health benefits of mindfulness are numerous. A recent article in Psychology Today (Change Your Brain) speaks specifically to these benefits, which include a decrease in anxiety, increased focus in stressful situations, and increased capacity for empathy. These benefits are realized through regular practice that actually changes your brain.
Though meditation has its roots in Buddhism, it has evolved into a secular practice that provides many of the daily benefits mentioned above. Specific... » read more