What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness encompasses a variety of techniques that increase your awareness of the present moment. As an example, as I am typing this, I am also caught up in my thoughts about a conversation I had yesterday. Why didn't I respond differently? Does the other person think I'm weird now? Should I reach out and try to correct the situation or will that make it ever weirder? 

As humans, our thoughts and emotions often get caught up in past events or future possibilities. Mindfulness simply attempts to bring our awareness out of those places (where we have no control) back to the present moment, the only place where we can affect our reality.

Mindfulness is not a religion. It does contain some philosophical concepts and follows scientific principles.

Why is mindfulness important for adolescents?

Sources that support this information:

Armstrong, T. (2021). The power of the Adolescent Brain: Strategies for teaching Middle and high school students. ASCD.

Dumontheil, I., Lyons, K. E., Russell, T. A., & Zelazo, P. D. (2022). A preliminary neuroimaging investigation of the effects of mindfulness training on attention reorienting and amygdala reactivity to emotional faces in adolescent and adult females. Journal of Adolescence, 95(1), 181–189. https://doi.org/10.1002/jad.12107

Ma, Y., & Fang, S. (2019). Adolescents’ mindfulness and psychological distress: The mediating role of Emotion Regulation. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01358

Sanger, K. L., & Dorjee, D. (2016). Mindfulness training with adolescents enhances metacognition and the inhibition of irrelevant stimuli: Evidence from event-related brain potentials. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 5(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tine.2016.01.001

Schussler, D. L., Oh, Y., Mahfouz, J., Levitan, J., Frank, J. L., Broderick, P. C., Mitra, J. L., Berrena, E., Kohler, K., & Greenberg, M. T. (2020). Stress and well-being: A systematic case study of adolescents’ experiences in a mindfulness-based program. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 30(2), 431–446. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01864-5

Tang, D.-F., Mo, L.-Q., Zhou, X.-C., Shu, J.-H., Wu, L., Wang, D., & Dai, F. (2021). Effects of mindfulness-based intervention on adolescents emotional disorders. Medicine, 100(51). https://doi.org/10.1097/md.0000000000028295

White, A. M., & Swartzwelder, S. (2013). What are they thinking?! the straight facts about the risk-taking, social-networking, still-developing Teen Brain. W.W. Norton.

Why should we use Pink Panties & Other Life Lessons in the classroom?

While research findings about mindfulness and adolescents are becoming more well-known, schools often struggle with the practical realities of implementing effective programs. Pink Panties & Other Life Lessons is an easy-to-use and enjoyable curriculum that can be implemented directly in the classroom. Use the book and/or consult with Danielle to bring the benefits of mindfulness to your school. 

How does mindfulness work in the classroom?

Mindfulness can be implemented in the classroom in several ways. There are two parts to teaching mindfulness: 1) teaching the concepts and 2) practicing the techniques.

To teach the concepts, I recommend dedicating one 20-minute session once a week to cover topics and/or have conversations about the topic. (If you can dedicate more time, that's great! I have been successful in the past with a once weekly 20 minute session. I see this as a minimum.)

There are a variety (so many!) techniques for practicing mindfulness. The trick is that not every student will enjoy every technique. I recommend spending one 20-minute session once a week to practice a technique together as a class. Students can provide their feedback and reflections afterwards. After several techniques have been practiced, students can start to implement choice during this time. They can choose any mindfulness technique that works for them. 

Eventually, mindfulness can be used in the spur of the moment in the classroom. When students are overwhelmed or if the energy of the class becomes too intense, the teacher or student could implement a 5-minute mindfulness break. 

The point is for students to understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and that they have choice in their practice. Once they have this foundation, mindfulness will begin to happen spontaneously and it becomes part of the classroom culture.

What is the connection between mindfulness and Montessori education?

Mindfulness and Montessori classrooms pair as well together as dark chocolate and caramel. Here is a look at how they reinforce each other: