Mindful Pause aims to help educators and students develop positive coping strategies that manage stress. Every day students and school staff will take at least two ‘mindful pauses’. Everyday, teachers will find two times during the school day to stop students and guide them through a process where they pause and take four deep breaths, tuning into their bodies and observing the physical and mental sensations that come (sensations, emotions, thoughts etc.) Teachers will choose the times during the class day when a pause will encourage them to refocus and calm their minds and bodies.
Mindful Pause is a mindful way to shift out of autopilot and strengthen your brain’s ability to manage powerful emotions or stress, just like going to the gym strengthens your muscles. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness is ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally’. Establishing a consistent practice of pausing throughout the day to notice what is going on inside, using breath to calm the body, and bringing students back to the present moment will empower and build confidence in both students and educators, as they build and strengthen this positive coping strategy for handling worry, stress and difficulty.
During the school day a teacher, or staff member, will indicate to the students that it is time to take a ‘pause’. The teacher will guide the students through a process that includes:
- Quieting body and mind
- Taking four deep breaths (3-4 seconds in and 3-4 seconds out)
- Focusing on breath as it enters and leaves body
- Noticing mental and physical sensations in non-judgmental way
- Coming out of the pause by re-focusing or ‘proceeding’ with day
The act of asking students and staff to ‘proceed’ as a closure to the activity might include direction to:
- Proceed with what they were previously doing
- Proceed with what they need to continue your day
- Proceed with loving kindness
- Proceed with (what skill, quality, state, or intention required at the time)
- Mindful Pause is one way to find piece in stressful times, a key part of the Personal Awareness and Social Responsibility core competency.
Personal & Social
- Mindful Pause is a personal choice that can support health and wellbeing, a key big idea in Physical and Health Education curriculum
- Resources to support teenagers taking mindfulness seriously
- The MIND-UP program is used in many BC schools
- Following are just a few of the many mindfulness programs in schools:
- Inner Kids Program (Pre-K-8)
- Inner Resilience Program (IRP) (K-8, adults)
- Learning to BREATHE (Adolescents)
- Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) (Age14–18 years)
- Mindful Schools (K-12)
- Still Quiet Place (Pre-K-12, adults)
- Stressed Teens (Ages 13-18 years)
- Wellness Works in Schools™ (Ages 3-18 years)
- Research on the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions has grown substantially in the past 15 years, and has spread from clinical/medical applications to more population-based implementation such as at the school level.
- For teachers, personal training in mindfulness skills can increase teachers’ sense of well-being and teaching self-efficacy, as well as their ability to manage classroom behaviour and establish and maintain supportive relationships with students. (Meiklejohn, 2012)
- For students, training in mindfulness practice has demonstrated improvements in working memory, attention, academic skills, social skills, emotional regulation, and self-esteem, as well as self-reported improvements in mood and decreases in anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
- A prospective, randomized control trial of MindUp in Canadian schools (coordinated through the University of British Columbia) demonstrated positive results. When core MindUp curriculum were implemented for 4 months, intervention schools demonstrated significant improvements in cognitive skills, social and emotional competence, and self-reported wellbeing among students when compared to their peers who did not receive the curriculum.(Schonert-Reichl, 2015).