Benefits of teaching mindfulness in schools:
*Studies have shown that relaxation training can improve children’s concentration, memory recall, problem solving abilities and reasoning (Arguelles, McCraty, Rees, 2003).
*Studies have shown that relaxation training is the most effective treatment for ADHD and concentration problems (Weisz, McCarty, Valeri, 2006).
*Researchers have found that during positive emotional states, a higher cognitive state is generated, and children can maximise their learning potential (Amon & Campbell, 2008).
Studies have proven that meditation can help reduce hyperactivity in children and improve family relationships (Harrison, Manocha and Rubia, 2004).
The Hawn foundation (as in actress Goldie Hawn) has funded research into best practices of teaching meditation with encouraging results. Their program is called Mind-Up.
Although the efficacy of meditation interventions has been examined among adult samples, meditation treatment effects among youth are relatively unknown. We systematically reviewed empirical studies for the health-related effects of sitting-meditative practices implemented among youth aged 6 to 18 years in school, clinic, and community settings. A systematic review of electronic databases (PubMed, Ovid, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews Database, Google Scholar) was conducted from 1982 to 2008, obtaining a sample of 16 empirical studies related to sitting-meditation interventions among youth.
Meditation modalities included mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Study samples primarily consisted of youth with preexisting conditions such as high-normal blood pressure, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities. Studies that examined physiologic outcomes were composed almost entirely of African American/black participants. Median effect sizes were slightly smaller than those obtained from adult samples and ranged from 0.16 to 0.29 for physiologic outcomes and 0.27 to 0.70 for psychosocial/behavioral outcomes. Sitting meditation seems to be an effective intervention in the treatment of physiologic, psychosocial, and behavioral conditions among youth. Because of current limitations, carefully constructed research is needed to advance our understanding of sitting meditation and its future use as an effective treatment modality among younger populations.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has shown effectiveness for a variety of mental health conditions. However, it is not known for whom the intervention is most effective. In a randomized controlled trial (N530), we explored whether individuals with higher levels of pretreatment trait mindfulness would benefit more from MBSR intervention. Results demonstrated that relative to a control condition (n515), MBSR treatment (n515) had significant effects on several outcomes, including increased trait mindfulness, subjective well-being, and empathy measured at 2 and 12 months after treatment. However, relative to controls, MBSR participants with higher levels of pretreatment mindfulness showed a larger increase in mindfulness, subjective well-being, empathy, and hope, and larger declines in perceived stress up to 1 year after treatment. & 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 67:267–277, 2011.
- S.N. Bhanoo (2011). How Meditation May Change the Brain, New York Times, January 28, 2011 (link).
- K.W. Brown and Ryan, R. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822-848.
- L. Flook, L, Smalley, S., Kitil, M., Galla, B., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J., et al. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26, 70-95.
- M.T. Greenberg, Weissberg, R. P., Utne O’Brien, M., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L. Resnik, H. et al. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic-learning. American Psychologist, 58, 466-474.
- E. Langer (2000). Mindful Learning. American Psychological Society, 9:6, 220-223. (Link)
- K.A. Schonert-Reichl (2007). Middle childhood inside and out: The psychological and social world of children 9 – 12. Vancouver, BC. The University of British Columbia, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education.
- K.A. Schonert-Reichl and Stewart Lawlor, M. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education program on pre- and early adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence. Mindfulness.
- K.A. Schonert-Reichl and Hymel, S. (2007). Educating the heart as well as the mind: Why social and emotional learning is critical for students’ school and life success. Education Canada, 47, 20-25. (Link)