In adults, mindfulness training has been proven time and again to improve health and wellbeing. It helps us to learn more effectively, think more clearly, perform better and to feel calmer, less anxious and less depressed. Tonbridge is at the forefront of teaching this skill to young people, with mindfulness on the curriculum for all Year 10s.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves training our attention to be ‘in the present’ with whatever is happening, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen. Brain imaging studies show that mindfulness practice reliably and profoundly alters the structure and function of the brain to improve the quality of thought , feeling and concern for others. Recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, mindfulness is increasingly being used in business to improve staff wellbeing and satisfaction, and in sports training to improve performance.
What are the benefits of mindfulness training?
Whilst for some lessons in mindfulness are appreciated simply as an exercise to help relax and calm, for many the benefits extend well beyond this, helping pupils cope with exam stress, get to sleep, manage anger, deal with difficult relationships, improve their performance in sports and simply handle the increasingly stressful pace and pressure of adolescence.
"It is a skill which I can use throughout my life. I enjoyed feeling good after doing it. I enjoyed feeling calmer once I had finished, and more content as well. It enabled me to be able to focus on the present moment, without worrying about exams, results, homework etc."
How is it taught at Tonbridge?
Mindfulness at Tonbridge is part of the broader PSHEE (Personal, Social and Health Education) Programme at Tonbridge. All year 10s do the nine week .b course (pronounced dot-b), a course co-written by Richard Burnett, a Tonbridge teacher and Housemaster. The programme focusses on key skills:
- First steps in focussing attention
- Establishing calm and concentration
- Recognising rumination and coming home to the body
- Developing present moment awareness in the every day
- Slowing and savouring activities, including walking
- Stepping back from thoughts that hijack you
- Allowing, accepting and being with difficult emotions
- Pulling it all together and making it personal
Pupils are expected to do a degree of ‘home practice’ in order to get the most out of the course and additional classes are then held for anyone who wishes to develop their interest in this further.
Links to items of interest:
Could beditation be the answer to exam nerves?
(The Guardian, 4th March 2013)
Mindfulness in Schools: Richard Burnett at TEDxWhitechapel
(YouTube, 14th February 2013)