Benefits of Mindfulness
By ISJL Education Fellow Paige Beame
To understand mindfulness, we need to recognize when we are unmindful. There are times in our lives during which we go into autopilot mode: our bodies move without us consciously thinking about where we are going. We all benefit from taking a moment to slow down and take charge of our minds. This article discusses the research behind thoughtful educational environments and beyond.
Benefits in Education
Education studies indicate that students are affected by the teachers’ presence in the classroom. When educators practice mindfulness, therefore, students have less stress and burnout, enjoy greater efficacy in completing tasks, take advantage of emotionally-supportive classroom settings, and display better classroom organization. In turn, a teacher that advocates mindfulness feels less anxious as they establish the classroom energy and encourage intention.
Students utilizing mindfulness improve their mental health, which leads to long-term achievement. Specifically, thoughtful students can build learning skills such as greater focus, social & emotional abilities including empathy, and social awareness. Students also often demonstrate resilience and emotional intelligence.
Research additionally reflects the profound value of mindfulness outside of classroom work. Some of the more relevant benefits for educators include improvement in attention, emotional regulation, a higher capacity for compassion, and coping strategies. The ability to focus our attention for an extended period of time helps us accomplish tasks with peak performance. Emotional regulation inspires changes in our brain, which allow us to engage with people and places sensitively. Next, compassion is valuable in relationships with coworkers and peers, as well as in relation to ourselves. Finally, mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety as the mind is able to relax and refocus to combat demanding situations.
Our bodies and cognition change when we work on mindfulness. These adjustments occur in three parts of the brain. After intentional, calm activity, the amygdala becomes less active and shows less grey matter density, which aids in controlling emotions. Through mindfulness, the hippocampus activates and produces more gray matter density and, as a result, regulates the amygdala and helps the functions of learning and memory. Lastly, mindful work develops the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain related to emotional maturity and forming wise decisions.
If you are interested to learn more about mindfulness as a resource for students and instructors, take a look at the links below to read more about current research in the field: