Mindfulness at School

Be curious, not judgmental.

— Walt Whitman

Mindfulness programs intended for children and adolescents are relatively new. They are specially formulated to stimulate the well-being and mental health of young program participants whose brains are still growing structurally, while remaining sensitive to developmental aspects of evolving consciousness. Such programs are supportive of stimulating concentration and cognitive development, while enabling social and emotional learning through self-regulation.

The focus of these courses, which can all be classified as mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), is the development of skills and general wellbeing associated with the cultivation of mindfulness. MBI program participation motivates attendance to present-moment experience, including immediate emotional and physical states, and discomfort, in ways which promotes non-judgment and acceptance. Such programs, adapted to benefit younger participants, and typically offered onsite or at school, could offer a space in which a child would grow up more nurtured by what the pediatrician and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott called the holding environment, which provides "a context of love, support, belonging, and meaning that contributes to a basic sense of confidence and to healthy psychological development in general” (Welwood, 1990).


Michal in his own words . . .

As a university lecturer and school teacher, I have been intimately involved in education for over 30 years. I am concerned by the stress levels young people are asked to bear as a result of what appears at times to be overwhelming pressure to achieve and perform. Looking back on my own childhood I can’t help wondering what it might have been like had I been offered some support and shown some skills which might have helped me to deal with the challenges and stress of growing up. It is such skills that I include in the mindfulness courses intended to benefit the young.

Cape Town, South Africa

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