Mindfulness Practices

What is mindfulness? What are the benefits/application of mindfulness at school?
Mindfulness is best described as purposefully attending to thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and sensory experiences as they arise in the moment, in a curious and non-judgmental manner.

The practice of mindfulness provides multiple benefits applicable to the educational setting, demonstrating a positive effect on both academic and social-emotional skills. Specifically, practicing mindfulness can enhance attentional and emotional self-regulation, promote cognitive flexibility, increase a sense of well-being, improve working memory, academic skills, social skills, and self-esteem, while decreasing interpersonal conflict, anxiety, stress, and fatigue.

In mindfulness, students direct their attention to a specific focus, such as the breath, a sensation, or feeling. As s/he practices, the mind will repeatedly drift off the chosen focus (or “anchor”) into spontaneously arising thoughts, memories, feelings, or images. Upon noticing this, the student brings his/ her attention back to the anchor. The intent is not to get rid of thoughts or feelings; it is instead to cultivate an awareness of the present moment. Noticing whatever arises with acceptance and non-judgment leads to increased clarity and stability of attention and often leads to reduced emotional and physical reactivity. This increases a person’s likelihood to respond to a situation instead of simply reacting.

How is mindfulness taught at Options Middle School?
Though mindfulness has roots in several religious practices, it is presented and taught in a secular manner with an emphasis on the physical and psychological benefits that it provides.

Mindfulness is taught at  Options Middle School by staff who have been trained in secular mindfulness. Students are invited to practice mindfulness to whatever degree they find comfortable and are not required to participate.

Mindful activities may be formal or informal. Mindfulness, which can be practiced sitting, lying down, standing, or moving, brings awareness into activities of everyday life, such as interacting with others, reading, listening to a lecture, completing a classroom assignment, walking, and even eating.

Please contact any of the peopel below if you have any questions regarding mindfulness and its application to the school setting:
Ashley Broer, PhD. abroer[at]lps.k12.co[dot]us
Heather Spragins, LCSW. hspragins[at]lps.k12.co[dot]us
Therese Hustis, PsyD. thustis[at]lps.k12.co[dot]us

A short video describing mindfulness:
https://vimeo.com/152432001

A documentary produced by Mindful Schools about the application of mindfulness in an educational setting:
http://www.mindfulschools.org/resources/room-to-breathe/