"The evidence is growing. The facts are coming to light how important it is that we do this. We must do this to help young people do more than survive in the future – that they learn to thrive." Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, scientist and contemporary father of contemporary, medically based mindfulness (MBSR)
Why a Mindfulness Based Practice for Kids?
Scholarly research finds that a mindfulness practice for children decreases stress and anxiety, increases attention, improves interpersonal relationships, and strengthens compassion.
When the child's body relaxes, it allows the child to learn better, to focus and concentrate more efficiently at the task on hand; and thereby, get better results.
Mindfulness Changes your Child's Brain
This part of the brain reacts to emotions, especially difficult or strong emotions such as fear. A recent Cognitive and Neuroscience study show that this part of the brain is less activated and has less grey matter density following mindfulness training.
This part of the brain is critical to learning and memory. Various studies, including a Psychiatry: Neuroimaging study show that following a mindfulness-based practice, this part of the brain is more active and has more grey matter density.
This part of the brain is most associated with maturity, and regulating emotions and behaviours so as to make wise decisions. Studies show that following a mindfulness-based practice, this part of the brain is more activated.
Mindfulness Based Evidence in Education
One of the largest randomised-controlled studies to date on mindfulness and children conducted by Mindful Schools in conjunction with the University of California, Davis, which involved 937 children, 47 teachers and 3 Oakland public elementary school was done in 2011-12.
Statistically, children exposed to a mindfulness-based education showed significant improvements in focus, concentration and engagement in class activities, as compared to the control group.
As compared to the control group, it showed the students exposed to mindfulness with:
- an increase in focus, attention and concentration
- an increase in class participation and engagement in learning
- an increased ability to show care for oneself, and for others
- a decrease level of stress and anxiety
Benefits of a Mindfulness Based Practice for Kids
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and numerous other studies show an improvement in focus, attention and concentration, including better performance on objective tasks that measure attention.
Because of the child's ability to focus and concentrate, at such low-stress levels, they were able to absorb the information better, which in turn led to long term improvements in their ability to succeed in life and achieve better results.
Mindfulness is associated with emotion regulation across a number of studies. Mindfulness creates changes in the brain that corresponds to less reactivity and an increased ability to engage and focus with the task on hand, even when emotions are activated.
By accessing a mindfulness-based practice, your child is more likely to have greater self compassion and empathy, and develop a more intimate relationship with one's personality nuances, and his/her physical and mental attributes.
Studies find that mindfulness greatly reduces feelings of stress, and improves reaction to anxiety and/or distress when placed in a stressful situation. When the child's body relaxes, it allows the child to learn better and achieve greater results in their lives.
Mindfulness and the Immune System
There is increasing evidence that a mindfulness-based practice impacts our child's immune system.
A recent, groundbreaking review looked at 20 randomised control trials examining the effects of mindfulness meditation on the immune system. In reviewing the research, the authors found that mindfulness meditation:
"Scientific evidence is mounting daily for what many have long sensed: that practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help us address certain intractable individual and societal problems. And, perhaps more importantly for our global health, for kids dealing with stress in their lives, putting these practices into place could be the difference between failure and success." Forbes