The Core classes focused on the topic of ‘Mindfulness’ in MYP 4 and 5 during the month of December, in MYP 1 and 2 during the month of January and the topic will begin for MYP 3 in mid-February.

Mindfulness can be a daunting topic to introduce to children and adolescents. The concept is abstract and complex and many adults struggle to understand it as well. On the other hand, numerous research studies in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and other social sciences have shown that practicing mindfulness regularly has a great impact on our everyday lives. It can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve focus and memory and enhance our overall physical and mental well-being. Schools all over the world have begun teaching mindfulness to children as young as 5 years old.

In this article, I will introduce the concept of mindfulness and give you a brief overview of the topics we covered during Core

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. It means being completely in the present without thinking of the past or worrying about the future. It also means acknowledging your sensations, thoughts and feelings without getting swept away by them. Mindfulness involves accepting the present moment exactly as it is – without trying to change it in any way.

Although Mindfulness originated from Buddhist Philosophy, you do not have to be religious in order to benefit from it. Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness but it is not the only way. You can practice mindfulness in everyday life – while eating, driving, swimming or playing a musical instrument. You might realise that you already practice mindfulness when you are engaging in an activity or hobby you enjoy.

Topics we covered in Core

Through Core, we tried to introduce the concept of mindfulness through activities and games to make it engaging for the students. In MYP 1, the students were asked to go on a ‘Rainbow Scavenger Hunt’ and bring back objects that represented each colour of the rainbow. Through this activity, the students were forced to pay attention to their surrounding areas and were introduced to mindfulness of the outside world. In MYP 2, the students were blindfolded and asked to identify objects based on taste, touch and smell. Through this activity, they were able to tune in to their sense of touch, smell and taste and practice mindfulness of sensations.

In MYP 4, the students made art by blowing coloured bubbles on to paper. The students were asked to focus on how altering their breath made bubbles of different shapes and sizes. In this way, the students were introduced to ‘mindful breathing’ which was followed by a short breathing meditation. In MYP 5, we played an instrumental song and the students were asked to focus on what emotions the song brought up and express them through art. This activity allowed the students to practice mindfulness of emotions as they managed to identify, label and express how they were feeling in the present moment.

Through this Core module, we hope that the students will be able to understand the concept of mindfulness and how it can help them in everyday life as well as get a chance to experience it for themselves. As mindfulness is only beneficial when you practice it regularly, we aim to revisit it regularly during the course of the semester.

Resources that will help you explore mindfulness further –

 Greater Good Magazine (University of California, Berkley) – https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness

Mindful.org –

https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/

Positive Psychology Program (University of Pennsylvania) –

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/category/mindfulness/

Mindfulness for Children (New York Times Article) –

https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/mindfulness-for-children

Psychology Today –

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness