How important is it to be mindful about our thoughts and actions? Rash decisions are usually bad decisions, and the mistakes we make could usually be avoided by simply pausing so we can be aware of what’s going on with our minds and our bodies. That’s why catchy advice like “go slow to go fast” and “measure twice, cut once” resonates with us.
Instinctively, I think, we know these things. But knowing it and being good at it are two different things. The truth is that being mindful takes practice. It’s a skill we learn and one that we can start learning from a very young age.
A study in Madison, Wis., schools recently showed that young students who practiced mindfulness with help from their teachers experienced some tremendous benefits. By taking part in activities like focusing on breathing, calming exercises and others, students showed more positive social and emotional traits than their peers who didn’t participate. The mindful students even had better academic results.
In schools today, there is often a feeling of being rushed to cram in all of the state standards and practice tests we can so that students are ready for the next standardized test. But what lesson is that teaching our students? We must also take time to think, to be mindful of ourselves and those around us, and then pass those skills on to our students, too. That way, when they’re facing a stressful situation, they’ll have the knowledge and the skills they need to succeed in the real-world as adults.
There is a great example of this kind of learning happening right now at Burnsville High School in the “Yoga, Pilates and Fitness” class taught by Lori VanderWoude. By practicing yoga, students are learning techniques that will help them stay fit physically and emotionally. They will be better prepared to deal with daily challenges of school and life because of what they’re learning. Read more about the class and how students are benefiting.
One of the great things about practicing mindfulness is that everyone can do it. It’s not just for young students and their teachers. It can benefit teens and parents and senior citizens and everyone in between. Our community is steeped with opportunities to engage in new environments and consider what we can learn and how to make a positive impact on others as a result of being mindful.
Post script: This column also appears in the Spring/Summer District 191 Community Education Catalog, which is full of opportunities to practice being mindful. Whether you are looking for a class on yoga or parenting or personal finances, you are taking the time to improve yourself through thoughtful, mindful behavior. Check it out online.