Taking it easy seems to be a lost art these days; even our “down” time fills up. In trying to accomplish everything, we move into a busy, mindless routine, numb to things going on around us. We are all stressed out, and that stress is causing physical, emotional and mental health issues for us— and for our children.
As if it weren’t abundantly clear to us already, experts are telling us it’s time to do something about our stress levels. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction therapy) started using mindfulness therapy as early as 1979. His practice continued to gain attention through the years and garnered worldwide recognition in 2014. Mindfulness is defined as, “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment.” To break it down, there are three parts to this definition:
- Mindfulness involves active attention which leads to awareness.
- It regards the present, rather than the past or future.
- The attention is nonjudgmental and accepting, without thinking about whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, important or not.
Mindfulness exercises include: paying attention, making the familiar new again, focusing on breathing, awakening senses, and meditating mindfully. “It involves attending to the external environment such as sights, sounds, and smells, as well as to internal bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings. In practicing mindfulness, one becomes aware of the current internal and external experiences, observes them carefully, accepts them, and allows them to be let go of in order to attend to another present moment experience.”
Mindfulness Education Within The Moraga School District (MSD):
According to Superintendent Bruce Burns, “The Moraga School District has spent considerable time researching mindfulness since 2014. Incorporating mindfulness strategies is included in our Local Control Accountability Plan and as part of the District’s Lifeskills program. The District’s Coordinating Council has had three mindfulness presentations this year, the last one presented April 20, 2016. Staff were introduced to Mindfulness at the March 7, 2016 district-wide staff development day. The District has also purchased a series of mindfulness “lessons”. Next August, there will be additional mindfulness district-wide staff development.”
For more information about Mindfulness in Moraga, please contact MSD's in-house expert: Donald Rheem Elementary School's Principal, Elaine Frank.