Teaching Mindfulness in UK Schools

The UK has for the first time invested public funds to study the benefits of mindfulness in the class room. Hundreds of children in the UK will be taught mindfulness among a range of innovative techniques with the aim of promoting good mental health, through one of the largest studies of its kind in the world (in terms of participant numbers). As reported in The New York Times this February, through this initiative, led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in partnership with University College London, a series of trials will see children from up to 370 schools learn mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises which aim to “to help them regulate their emotions”—alongside pupil sessions with mental health experts.

“As a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children… these trials are key to improving our understanding of how practical, simple advice can help them cope.” –Damian Hinds, UK Secretary of State for Health

The Government’s current initiative builds on over a decade of grassroots work to bring mindfulness to schoolchildren across the UK. Thanks to independent curriculum innovators and enthusiastic champions at the school and local authority level, over 5,000 trained classroom teachers deliver mindfulness training in thousands of schools across the UK. Successive Secretaries of State for Education have recognized the potential for mindfulness training to improve well-being, cognitive skills, and academic performance, but until now they have been hesitant to put scarce resources behind a national program.

For more information, go to www.mindful.org

Photo credit: mindful.org

Read more at Mindfulness & Meditation for Politicians


A Talk with William Meyer, Author of Three Breaths and Begin: A Guide to Meditation in the Classroom

William Meyer is the author of Three Breaths and Begin: A Guide to Meditation in the Classroom. He has long taught history, economics, and humanities in urban and suburban high schools, where he has also taught meditation in a variety of forms. He has worked with fellow educators in workshops and professional development courses, is the author of two published middle-reader novels, and is currently working to augment his MA in education from Harvard with a PhD from NYU. More information at BillPMeyer.com.

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Sounds Wonderful by Rick Heller

It’s common to meditate while listening to beautiful music, but I’ve found that meditating to ambient sounds—whatever sounds are present at this very moment—is not only a wonderful meditation, it provides a deep insight into where we can find joy in our lives. I lead weekly meditations at the Humanist Community at Harvard, and one of our mainstays is the ambient sound meditation. I first learned it myself when I attended a workshop by the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. The idea is to pay attention to all the sounds around you with a friendly welcoming spirit. This includes the sounds of trucks and buses going by, sirens, coughing, rustling and other sounds that we typically label as “noise.”

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Treating Dementia With Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga

Do you know someone who suffers from dementia? Witnessing a loved one slowly lose their memory and reasoning skills can be a very painful experience. Dementia is a persistent syndrome that tends to get worse over time–affecting memory, thinking, and behavior. It is distinct from Alzheimer’s in that Alzheimer’s is a specific disease, but general dementia can stem from a variety of unrelated brain illnesses.

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Keep Making It Simpler by Marc Lesser

The following is an excerpt from Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery Kitchen, by Marc Lesser. Whenever I lead trainings or give talks on using these seven mindfulness practices, I can often feel the room’s energy shift as I describe the seventh practice, “Keep making it simpler.” People experience a sense of relief, as though a weight has been lifted. Their shoulders drop and they relax. Though we yearn for and need practices to support our leadership, mindfulness, and growth, we also have a basic and primal yearning to let go, to let it all go — all our concerns and judgments about our health, well-being, improvement, effort, and struggles over everything, including these practices. What a relief to stop struggling!

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Meditation, Spirituality & Brain Changes with Dr. Andrew Newberg

You’ve probably heard of Dr. Andrew Newberg’s work on meditation, even if you didn’t realize it — he’s the scientist who did the ground breaking studies of Tibetan monks meditating that showed how dramatically it changed the brain . He went on to study nuns praying and Sikhs chanting and found similar brain states as those of meditation. His ground breaking work led to the development of a new field of science called “neurotheology,” which studies the relationship between the brain and religious experience.

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Reconnecting to Your Heart: A Guided Meditation from the Angels

As a mystic, I have been receiving information and guidance from the angels since I was a very young girl. As I watch the news, what I see is a world of souls searching to make sense of the daily Surprise that is thrown upon us. Recently in my meditation The Archangels (the architects of the Heavenly Realms) came to me with a message for our time. I would like to share this with you.

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Mindfulness & Meditation for Politicians

Something interesting has been going on in the British Parliament – and no, it’s not Brexit. More and more members are meditating before they meet! As reported in The Guardian, since 2013 more than 145 members have taken an eight week course in mindfulness and meditation (video). Last year government ministers from 15 countries gathered at the House of Commons in the British Parliament to explore whether mindfulness can help reset the conduct of national and international politics. The event was organized by senior Conservative and Labour MPs, who said they would discuss the potential of meditation “to help political leaders stay resilient, clear-minded and creative in the face of constant change.”

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The Science Is In: Meditation Affects Aging and Telomere Length

Science is all about precision, controlled studies, and measurable, repeatable results. So for years researchers resisted working on alternative practices such as meditation, dismissing the few studies done as “fuzzy science,” “subjective,” or “impossible to duplicate.” But as research methods have advanced, so has the accuracy of the latest research. There is ample evidence now that stress leads to increased risk of health problems and that meditation reduces stress. What’s new are the studies showing how stress is related to aging and telomere length.

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Up the Hill – Down the Hill by Stephen Thomson

| by Stephen Thomson

When I was in my thirties I began to meditate. Most of my friends were doing it, so I thought I would try. I became addicted to my practice and progressed to a point that I was meditating daily for periods as long as three hours during one sitting. I was also becoming pretty full of myself and had a kind of spiritual arrogance at the same time. Now as I look back, I think I approached meditation in the same way I did any competitive sport. My efforts were about being the best I could be, the one with the most endurance and greatest success.

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