Many Ways to be Mindful!
We have talked a lot about the need for mindfulness on The Wellbeing Hive, encouraging our community to take time to be mindful every day – it is one of our daily habits we have been promoting. We also recently wrote about the benefits of quiet – on the brain and on your wellbeing. There is also a great deal of Science around this – you might be interested in checking out this TED Talk by Daniel Goleman:
Mindfulness is something many see as new-age or spiritual, something “airy fairy” rather than a powerful tool for increasing focus, productivity and mental health. This is something we are hoping to dispel. Mindfulness is something we should encourage each other to embrace, for our own personal wellbeing and stress management, and also to help us perform at our best. For this reason, you can read below many articles discussing why businesses are embracing mindfulness as well.
We have tried many different mindfulness activities in our program, both on campus and whilst learning remotely – and try to have a school-wide mindfulness session at least once a week. These sessions are aimed not only at helping young people see the benefits of mindfulness, but to also show them there are many ways to be mindful. We have explored everything from meditation to journaling to less obvious forms of mindfulness – things you might never expect to be mindful.
Recently we tested just how well some of our students (and staff!) had been internalizing these messages – and how well they knew the best ways to help themselves embrace mindfulness and quiet. These were some of the areas they chose:
The most obvious way to be mindful is to be quiet and sit and be reflective. When we asked staff and students to choose their own way to be mindful, many chose these more traditional forms – with some staff and students opting for meditation as a way to spend their mindfulness session. Many embraced an app – such as Smiling Mind for the morning, whilst other simply embraced quiet reflection – sometimes with eyes closed or sometimes just sitting quietly in nature, appreciating its beauty. I often find that being in nature is a wonderful way to be quiet and mindful.
Our students are very used to picking up a book for our Drop Everything and Read sessions (DEAR) and we have discussed many times how reading is a great way to embrace quiet and mindfulness. Some chose this option, and others diversified their reading. I saw some staff reading the paper quietly and some students used the time to listen to a podcast as an option for reading.
Puzzles and “Doing Hard Things”
Doing hard things can be incredibly mindful. If you move past frustrations and challenge yourself to solve a problem, challenges require so much focus that they turn out to be very mindful. Deep engagement is a form of mindfulness, and entering a state of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called “Flow” (check out his TED Talk here) is a wonderful way to boost positive feelings. In shorthand terms, Flow is that feeling you get when the rest of the world drops away and you barely notice time passing as you undertake your activity.
Puzzles and rubik’s cubes are excellent ways to be experience Flow, and were popular choices for our students. Crosswords and sudoku are great challenges as well.
Have you ever found that the focus required when being active clears your mind? Many students chose to be active as a form of mindfulness. Bike riding was particularly popular (not a surprise with the popularity of our Human Powered Vehicle and Cycling Programs) but we also saw some boys playing tennis and a staff member actually got out into the garden!
Creativity is another one of our daily habits, and for good reasons. It’s a terrific way to be mindful and experience flow. We have looked at the connection between art and mindfulness many times in our wellbeing program, and many students and staff took the opportunity to be artistic during our Mindfulness Morning. Some did mindful drawing whilst others played a musical instrument.
There really is a way for everyone to embrace the daily habit of being mindful – and allowing your mind to think about nothing and simply be at peace – or more actively reflecting. Why not try some of the different ideas above?
But one thing is for sure – we have young people in our community who are playing an active and conscious role of building and protecting their own wellbeing. What a tremendous gift and skill this is!