Why I Love My Daughter's Mindfulness Classes at School

Ever since I saw Goldie Hawn on Oprah talking about her MindUP Foundation and the benefits of teaching mindfulness to kids, I've followed MindUP on Facebook. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I clicked on a link in their feed to a Wall Street Journal article about teaching mindfulness in school and saw a photo of my daughter's class (her pink sneakered foot is at the far left) in a mindfulness session with their literacy coach, Ms. Mahoney.

My daughter told me when Ms. Mahoney began the sessions with them a few weeks ago. According to my daughter, the class sits in a circle, closes their eyes, and the kids take turns ringing the bell—a singing bowl—to start the session. Then they sit quietly and notice their own thoughts and what's around them. Each session has a different lesson, such as mindful seeing (their eyes are open for this), mindful hearing, mindful breathing, and heartfulness, which is sending kind thoughts to others. (That's why the students have their hands over their hearts in the WSJ photo.) The idea is that learning these techniques will help kids focus better in school and be less stressed out.

My daughter says she likes the mindfulness sessions and they help her focus on the very next thing they do in school, but when I ask her if she would do it on her own to focus at other times, she says no. Why? It's "boring," she says. But if she likes it and it helps ... ? I can't quite get to the reasoning behind her quite adamant refusals to do it any more than why she loathes bathing and resists doing it like I'm asking her to shower in acid. But just like I know bathing will become a habit in her later years (fingers crossed!), I hope mindfulness will, too.

I do believe in its powers to combat stress and promote balance in our lives. Meditation or mindfulness may have roots in Buddhism, but teaching kids how to do it in a secular way isn't religion in disguise any more than teaching kids to treat others as they would like to be treated is promoting Christianity. It's just a great life lesson. Trying to be present in the moment and hear our own thoughts and feelings is harder than ever, with smart phones at our fingertips offering endless ways to distract ourselves. Our inner voices can get drowned out by the increasingly fast-paced and demanding world swirling around us. Taking a moment to notice life and our thoughts about it could never be a bad thing.

As the wise man Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based writer who recently subscribed to Headspace to incorporate meditation into her own life. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Image via Shutterstock

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