Mindfulness For Schools

Funky Yogis specialises in providing the .b and paws.b educational mindfulness programs to schools. Tested through evidence based research at Cambridge and Oxford universities, and currently undergoing trials at Exeter University in the UK, these programs have gained international credibility and have been running successfully for over 10 years around the world.

What can mindfulness do for my school?

You may have heard that mindfulness is gaining international attention, and there is rapidly growing research based evidence to prove that this life skill has reliable and profound effects on the brain function and structure, resulting in, among other things:

A reduction in stress and anxiety
Development of resilience and emotional self-regulation
An Improvement in attention, memory and concentration
improved academic achievement
Gaining a general sense of well-being and calmness.

What is mindfulness? Read more about it at: http://mindfulnessinschools.org/mindfulness

What are the Paws b and .b mindfulness courses?

Paws b and .b are a secular mindfulness courses designed to be taught in schools or as an afternoon activity, taught privately to small groups.

These courses are an awareness-raising exercise to give all students a taste of mindfulness so that they know about it and can use it now or return to it later in life if they choose to do so. For those who choose to use it now, it can lead to immediate and powerful results. Students have reported to feel happier, calmer and more fulfilled; they can concentrate better and have strategies to deal with stress and anxiety.

Aims of Paws b and .b

  • To help children to experience greater well-being (e.g. feel happier, calmer, more fulfilled)
  • To fulfill children's potential and pursue their own goals e.g. be more creative, more relaxed, academically, personally
  • To improve children's concentration and focus, in classes, in exams and tests, on the sports field, when playing games, when paying attention and listening to others
  • To teach children to work with difficult mental states such as depressive, ruminative and anxious thoughts and low moods
  • To teach children the skills they need to cope with the everyday stresses and strains of adolescent life such as exams, relationships, sleep problems, family issues.

    Backed by science

    These courses, developed by the Mindfulness For Schools Project, a non-profit organisation in the UK, are influenced by adult mindfulness courses such as MBSR & MBCT. The .b course has undergone two controlled studies by The Exeter and Cambridge universities in the UK to assess its effectiveness and the Paws b course is currently being evaluated by the University of Bangor in Wales, UK.

    Read more about these studies at: http://mindfulnessinschools.org/research/research-evidence-mindfulness-schools-project

    Both courses have been vigorously researched and informed by the most cutting edge finding in neuro-science.

    What is included in the individual programs?

    Paws b means to pause (paws) and be. The course is based on six themes over six 1 hour lessons, and ideally taught to 7-11 year olds. Students receive a student booklet, a sound file of one of the mindfulness practices and a certificate on completion of the course.

    Read more about the program and curriculum at: http://mindfulnessinschools.org/what-is-b/paws-b-curriculum

    .b, pronounced [dot-be], stands for 'Stop, Breathe and Be!' This simple act of mindfulness provides the seed of a ten lesson course for children and teens aged between 11-18 years of age. Students receive a student booklet, sound files of two of the mindfulness practices and a certificate on completion of the course.

    Read more about the program and curriculum at: http://mindfulnessinschools.org/what-is-b/b-curriculum

    The lessons

    Each lesson focuses on teaching a distinct mindfulness skill, and designed to do so in a way which engages young minds. Both courses teach students about how their mind works and how to train their mind to be focused and calm. It encourages the development of resilience, self-regulation, self-esteem and compassion. Concepts are put in a relevant context that is both age and developmentally appropriate. The lessons typically include a brief presentation by the teacher with the help of lively, pupil-friendly visuals, film and sound images, and practical exercises and demonstrations to make the ideas vivid and relevant to their lives. Students will also be lead them in some short and practical mindfulness practices - for example learning to sit still and watch the breath, be aware of different parts of the body, walk mindfully or become more aware of how the body feels under stress. It will typically end with an invitation to do some brief practices at home during the week.

    What the programs are not

  • Soft, fluffy, hippy dippy. There is a solid evidence base for teaching mindfulness which comes from careful evaluations of interventions, including some randomised control trials, and clear support from the evidence from brain imaging and the developing findings of neuroscience. It is summarised in the paper we have produced 'Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People'.
  • A disciplinary technique. Many people experience mindfulness as calming and over time many pupils do behave better, but that is not the main point, and if pursued for its own sake is likely to backfire with some resentful pupils. Mindfulness has to be for the learner themselves to help experience what is going on for them right now (including agitation, anger, the urge to fidget etc).
  • Buddhism by the back door. Mindfulness has been developed from a Buddhist base but it is totally secular and can be engaged in by anyone of any faith, or none.
  • Relaxation. A sense of calm and relaxation of tension in mind and body is another frequently experienced and welcome side effect of all various types of meditation, including mindfulness, but again this is not the prime goal of mindfulness, which is to be with whatever is happening, including if necessary tension and anxiety.
  • Visualisation. Mindfulness is about getting in touch with what is actually happening in the mind and body, not taking yourself to another place or trying to create an alternative state of mind.
  • Therapy. .b is education rather than therapy, and is not designed to address serious mental health problems, although it can certainly help with some difficult emotional states. It can however provide a universal entitlement for all that provides a useful backdrop and creates a climate and ethos that supports more targeted approaches for those with more severe problems.
  • Adult mindfulness. The course is shorter, the messages punchier and more direct and the practices and discussions briefer. The goals are more modest, and include simply making all pupils aware of the existence of mindfulness in case they wish to explore it later.

    Thanks to the Mindfulness In Schools Project website for this information.