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Mindfulness in Schools: an Introduction

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1 Mindfulness in Schools: an Introduction
I.  Mindful Breathing:  Grounding Images II. Mindfulness:  What is it? & Why in School? III. Mindfulness at Hassan: Findings III. Meditation:  Body Scan  IV.  Mindful Movement Yoga Calm (R) “Me Moves” V.  Meditation:  Loving Kindness Balance of Compassion & Equinimity (Jack Kornfield & Sharon Salzberg)  VI.  Resources VII. Gratitude:  

2 Mindfulness “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” –Jon Kabat-Zinn

3 The Need for Mindfulness in the School Environment - Addressing Attention & Behavioral Issues
The percentage of children with ADHD has dramatically risen in recent times, growing by 22% between 2003 and 2007, and since increasing 2% each year (CDC 2010). Due to the dramatic increase in attention and behavioral problems in school children, teachers and caregivers are actively seeking effective treatments. A student’s inability to control his/her attention or his/her behavior is often met with punishment or medical attention, ie; medication But what if these attention and behavioral problems stemmed from a neurological deficit that could be remedied through practice?

4 Both attention and behavioral problems involve a neurological deficit:
Executive functioning refers to one’s ability to executively decide what to: Pay attention to How to act (Behave, Plan, Organize, Control Impulses)

5 ADHD Is characterized by a lack of attention control and hyperactive behavior ADHD is strongly related to deficits in a neurological problem in executive functioning

6 Executive Functioning
An impairment in executive functioning, related to attention deficit and disruptive behavior is associated with decreased capacity of the prefrontal cortex, the neurological seat of executive functioning (Fuster 2008). Blanket term for attentional & behavioral control, dictates what we do and what we pay attention to. Due to recent findings of neural plasticity, we now understand that our brain can generate stronger neural connections based on our mental habits.

7 The Pre-frontal Cortex
The pre-frontal cortex controls high-level brain functions: Intention to pay attention Emotional Regulation (regulates Amygdala) Body Regulation Intuition – visceral experience

8 Amygdala: The Watch Dog of Emotions
Acute experience of stress triggers activation of amygdala, *Fight *Flight *Freeze Chronic Stress strengthens the Amygdala creating a stronger stress response (Roozendaal et al. 2006, Bremmer 2004). As Stress builds, PFC deteriorates & impairs Executive Functioning (Radley 2006, Roosendaal et al. 2009). Without strong Executive Functioning, control is impaired & brain’s emotional response centers go unregulated. Stress on PFC can impair one’s ability to self-regulate emotions.

9 Weak prefrontal cortex and impaired executive functioning are not static conditions.
Due to recent findings of neural plasticity, we now understand that our brain can generate stronger neural connections based on our mental habits. Like with any muscle, neural circuits can grow stronger with practice By practicing attention control and emotion regulation, we can train in executive functioning and strengthen the neural circuits that underlie this function.

10 Mindfulness Meditation
One such practice of executive functioning, exercising the muscle of the prefrontal cortex is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as present moment, nonjudgmental awareness,. That is, the ability to be attentive to whatever is happening in the present moment without judging it or become distracted (Kabat-Zinn 1990).

11 Mediation con’t….. Meditation has been shown to improve self-regulation of attention, emotion, and behavior. In the past 10 years, meditators have demonstrated time and time again the effect of meditation on increases in attention control and increases in emotional regulation. Meditation has been shown to increase “grey matter” in the Hippocampus (memory) & decrease in volume of the Amygdala (Hoetzl 2011).

12 Improves Attention in Children
After training in mindfulness, one group of 1st-3rd grade students significantly improved on attention tasks and showed significant improvements in symptoms of ADHD (Napoli 2005). These researchers showed that a short execution of mindfulness practices in young children resulted in greater ability to control their attention in the face of distractions and social distractions.

13 Powerful Connection A powerful connection exists between attention-training through mindfulness and emotion and behavioral regulation As the prefrontal cortex grows stronger, attention control increases, that is, the children have more capacity to choose what to pay attention to That same brain region, the PFC that regulates the attention, also regulates the brain’s emotional centers

14 Mindfulness Decreases Stress Decreases Depression & Anxiety
Supports the Management of Chronic Pain Enhances Attention & Executive Functioning Increases Compassion, Empathy & Pro-Social Behaviors Improves Emotion Regulation









23 Reduces Anxiety and Depression in Youth!
Mindfulness training has been shown to help anxious youth to combat anxiety, meditated by increases in their attentional control (Semple et al. 2005). Similarly, in adolescents with severe and comorbid psychiatric disorders, those who practiced mindfulness meditation significantly improved in anxiety compared to treatment as usual (Biegel et al. 2009). The effect does not diminish in high-risk youth. Indeed, one study found that mindfulness training in a group of incarcerated youth significantly reduced their hostility and emotional discomfort. Additionally, these incarcerated youth improved in interpersonal relationships, school achievement, and stress (Sibinga et al. 2011).

24 Improvement With Behavior
Meditation has been shown to improve disruptive behavior, even in very aggressive and difficult school-aged children In aggressive adolescents pending school expulsion, mindfulness training helped them to regulate their aggressive behavior, so much so that they were no longer pending expulsion.

25 Mindfulness In Adults Mindfulness practices in adults have been shown to strengthen the areas of the brain that are associated with executive functioning, the PFC By training students in mindfulness and increasing the activity in the PFC, students can improve their ability to control their attention and their emotions.

26 Effect of Mindfulness on Educators
*Give Educators neural resources to combat stress, build up PFC and regulate the Amygdala response, potential to reduce Educator Burnout, Psychological Symptoms & Increase Satisfaction (Davidson et al, 2013).

27 Conclusion Without the ability to control their attention and their behavior, students can fall behind in class, act out, and accrue violations leading to punishment or medication. Mindfulness meditation may provide a viable alternative to these responses. Through mindfulness practice, students may be able to strengthen their executive functioning capabilities, leading to better attentional and behavioral control.

28 Mindful Living! J. Walter Thompson, Giant Advertising Agency identifies Mindful Living as top 10 trends in 2014!

29 Mindfulness in the NEWS!

30 Resources Alderfer, Lauren, and Kerry Lee MacLean. Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda. Boston: Wisdom Publications, Print. Belknap, Martha. Stress Relief for Kids: Taming Your Dragons. Duluth, MN: Whole Person Associates, Print. Calhoun, Yael, Matthew R. Calhoun, and Carol Anne. Coogan. Create a Yoga Practice for Kids: Fun, Flexibility, and Focus. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone, Print. Chia, Mantak. The Six Healing Sounds: Taoist Techniques for Balancing Chi. Rochester, VT: Destiny, Print. Garth, Maureen. Moonbeam: A Book of Meditations for Children. North Blackburn, Victoria: CollinsDove, Print. Garth, Maureen. Starbright: Meditations for Children. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, Print.

31 Resources con’t Gillen, Lynea, and Jim Gillen. Yoga Calm for Children: Educating Heart, Mind, and Body. Portland, OR: Three Pebble, Print. Hạnh, Nhất, and Wietske Vriezen. Mindful Movements. Berkeley: Parallax, Print. Hạnh, Nhất. A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles. Berkeley, CA: Plum Blossom, Print. Lite, Lori, and Max Stasyuk. Affirmation Weaver: A Believe in Yourself Story. United States: Lite.Net LLC, Print. Lite, Lori, and Max Stasuyk. Angry Octopus: A Relaxation Story. Marietta, GA: Stress Free Kids, Print. Lite, Lori, and Max Stasyuk. Bubble Riding: A Relaxation Story. United States:, 2008.

32 References Works Cited
Arch, J., and M. Craske. "Mechanisms of Mindfulness: Emotion Regulation following a Focused Breathing Induction." Behaviour Research and Therapy (2006): Print. "A Classroom in the Now." Jon Kabat-Zinn Speaks at Harvard on the Power of Mindfulness in Education. Web. 09 Apr <>. Culbert, Timothy, and Rebecca Kajander. Be the Boss of Your Sleep: Self-care for Kids. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Pub., Print. Culbert, Timothy, and Rebecca Kajander. Be the Boss of Your Stress: Self-care for Kids. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Pub., Print. Greco, Laurie A., Ruth A. Baer, and Gregory T. Smith. "Assessing Mindfulness in Children and Adolescents: Development and Validation of the Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM)." Psychological Assessment 23.3 (2011): Print.

33 References con’t Hanson, Rick. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. Print. Hawn, Goldie, and Wendy Holden. 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children--and Ourselves--the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives. New York, NY: Perigee Book, Print. Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living: How to Cope with Stress, Pain and Illness Using Mindfulness Meditation. London: Piatkus, Print. Klatt, Maryanna, Karen Harpster, Emma Browne, Susan White, and Jane Case-Smith. "Feasibility and Preliminary Outcomes for Move-Into-Learning: An Arts-based Mindfulness Classroom Intervention." The Journal of Positive Psychology 8.3 (2013): Print. Kuyken, W., K. Weare, O. C. Ukoumunne, R. Vicary, N. Motton, R. Burnett, C. Cullen, S. Hennelly, and F. Huppert. "Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme: Non-randomised Controlled Feasibility Study." The British Journal of Psychiatry (2013): Print. Lantieri, Linda. Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Print.

34 References con’t Napoli, Maria, Paul Rock Krech, and Lynn C. Holley. "Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students." Journal of Applied School Psychology 21.1 (2005): Print. Russell, Jack. "Mindfulness: A Tool for Parents and Children with Asperger's Syndrome." Mindfulness 2.3 (2011): Print. Santorelli, Saki. Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine. New York: Bell Tower, Print. Semple, Randye. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Children: A Randomized Group Psychotherapy Trial Developed to Enhance Attention and Reduce Anxiety Print. Siegel, Daniel J. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York: Bantam, Print. Smalley, Susan L., Sandra K. Loo, T. Sigi Hale, Anshu Shrestha, James Mcgough, Lisa Flook, and Steven Reise. "Mindfulness and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder." Journal of Clinical Psychology (2009): Print. Spek, Annelies A., Nadia C. Van Ham, and Ivan Nyklíček. "Mindfulness-based Therapy in Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Research in Developmental Disabilities 34.1 (2013): Print. Thompson, M., and J. Gauntlett-Gilbert. "Mindfulness with Children and Adolescents: Effective Clinical Application." Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 13.3 (2008): Print.

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