Adapting to university life can be tough. You are usually worried about grades, living independently for the first time, planning for the future, and other countless things that could potentially become stressors depending on the person. Students experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety often see their wellbeing and academic success affected deeply. (C. Hassed, R. Chambers et 2014, J.Miller et 2014).
One approach to solving the ‘stress crisis’ is meditation. Especially, mindfulness meditation has been the central study of several cases and articles focusing on its benefits in many areas of our life.
Mindfulness in simple words is being aware of the present moment through the use of our senses. You might have heard the term if you know something about Buddhism. Mindfulness is part of Buddhist practices but in reality, it is not necessary to be into Buddhism to receive the positive effects of mindfulness techniques.
Therefore mindfulness seems to be an apparent solution for today’s crisis claiming benefits like relieving stress, enhancing attention, and promoting cognitive and emotional development for the practitioner.
The positive effects of mindfulness are also backed by neuroscience. The benefits of mindfulness in the brain had been studied by neuroscientist Dan Siegel. Siegel found out that these practices supported the brain’s neural integration in young adults suggesting that mindfulness should be present in educational settings as they enter higher education.
According to Candy Gunther Brown in his book Debating Mindfulness in Public Schools by 2018, more than 7 million preschool children were introduced to mindfulness through preschool curriculums such as MindUP, Mindful Schools and Calmer Choices. A number particularly low if we take into consideration the positive impact the evidence is showing about mindfulness.
The mindfulness practice as a teacher-learning experience study shows a qualitative example of how 52 graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of majors experience 10 min mindfulness practice at the start of each week’s class for a semester. Every single participant claimed to be more relax and focused. In the word of students: ‘’it helped with managing stress’’, ‘’I felt relax’’ and ‘’Great way to start the day’’. One common feedback was how they failed to maintain a habit of practicing at home. A suggestion was to have a recorded guided meditation which in reality could benefit both teachers and students.
Teachers were also part of a study in 2019, in which the impact of mindfulness on pre-service teachers transitioning to professional teaching was observed. The research was based on Instructional support, class organization, and emotional support. The experiment lasted 7 months. The last observation occurred in lead weeks; a period where the pre-service teacher takes full responsibility from the previous teacher. The results from the 97 participants showed an increased result in all of the studied areas. Results showed an increased ability to conduct the class, introduce mindfulness techniques, and an overall increase in emotional wellness, which is usually low on pre-service teachers.
One particularly important but less study benefit of mindfulness is the apparent promotion of connectedness with nature. In a study done in China 134 participants were divided into a mindlessness group (n=69) and a mindfulness group (n=65). They were later tested on three scales to determine their level of connectivity and level of mindfulness. The tests were the Connectedness to Nature Scale (NCN), Langer Mindfulness Scale (LMS), and the Inclusion of Nature in the Self Scale (NSS). The results support that mindful learning promotes intrinsic and extrinsic connectedness to nature.
We are faced with several challenges every day. Mental diseases like stress, anxiety, and depression could be present at any time in our life. Mindfulness not only addresses these challenges but promotes an overall healthy cognitive and emotional intelligence in the practitioner inside and outside school. In these days of uncertainty, mindfulness can be key to be in harmony with the world, with others, and with yourself.
C.Hassed, (2014). Mindful Learning: Reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning. Nurse Education Today.
J.P Miller (2014). Teaching from the Thinking Heart. Information Age.
D.Siegel (2013)The Power and Purpose of the teenage brain. Penguin Group, NY
C.Gunther Brown (2019)Debating Mindfulness in Public Schools. Reforming Secular Education or reestablishing religion?, 180-200.
K. Jasna (2016) Mindfulness practice as a teaching-learning strategy in higher education. Nurse Education Today. 50, 92-96.
Hirshberg, J (2019) Integrating Mindfulness and Connection practices into preservice teacher education. Learning and Instruction. 66, 101298.
Wang (2016) Minful learning can promote connectedness to nature: Implicit and Explicit evidence. Counciousness and Cognition. 44, 1-7.