What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening right now with curiosity and kindness and without judgment. It’s a practice used in medicine, sports, business, the military and schools. Inner Explorer is a non-profit organization that brings daily mindfulness audio practices of five to ten minutes into K-12 classrooms. Based on the acclaimed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction protocol, Inner Explorer begins with sitting, breathing and sense exercises (sound, touch, taste, smell, and sight). Over one million students have access to the program (in English and Spanish). Inner Explorer recently launched a family app so, during the pandemic, kids in closed schools and districts can practice at home.
Mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent years. Every month more than 40 studies are published proving the advantages of mindfulness. During this uncertain time, with an estimated 40 million students learning at home benefits include both reducing stress and improving focus. In fact, ‘readiness to learn’ fostered by mindfulness, is a bigger predictor of academic success than IQ! Mindfulness also helps kids make wise choices; slowing down promotes responding rather than reacting to situations. This results in calmer kids (whether at home or in school). Hearts open when we slow down and pay attention to the present moment which means we are kinder which makes happier homes and communities. Finally, many studies show that mindfulness actually improves immune function, vitally necessary with the Covid-19 crisis affecting our country.
While in school, the teacher chooses the time to for the classroom to practice. At home, practice can be any time. Mindfulness in the morning sets the tone for a calm and lovely day. And mindfulness exercises before engaging in homework or assignments can improve focus and make the academic work easier to complete. To create the habit of practice, we recommend following a routine. Scheduling a time for the primary program every day ensures better engagement and more success. The daily program is 5 mins for PreK – 1st grade and 10 minutes for older kids (which, after the first five lessons, includes a two-minute period for reflection or journaling). Additional transition practices are 1 – 4 minutes long and can be used anytime.
Practicing in a quiet a place, with few interruptions is optimal. However, with some families “sheltering in place” and others ordered to “stay at home”- the best place will be whatever space is available. Families might listen to the program together to decrease disruptions. Remember there are no perfect mindfulness practices, interruptions serve as a reminder to return to the breath, and every time we return to the breath, we’re training our brains to re-focus. Since the family app can be used anywhere, some might even practice while in a park or the back yard. The most important element for the best benefits is daily practice, so be flexible with the location.
The Inner Explorer program includes four age-specific series of 5-10 minute audio-guided practices for different developmental stages: Preschool – 1st grade; 2nd – 4th grades; 5th – 7th grades; 8th – 12th grades. Each level includes 90 sequenced daily practices. The program contextualizes the practices using age-appropriate language and examples. In school the teacher practices with the kids, and we recommend adults at home do too. Google, General Mills, Apple, Procter & Gamble, the Seattle Seahawks, and the U.S. military are a few of the organizations that have embraced mindfulness to enhance performance and productivity. During this time of change and chaos, parents who practice will benefit as much if not more than their kids.
During this extraordinary period of the COVID-19 virus we accelerated our timetable to release an app developed specifically for families. We’re offering full access to our school program through this app at no cost to families until the end of June 2020.
Go to https://innerexplorer.org/compass/family_onboarding for more information.