Mindfulness Instruction Coming to Schools
A “mindfulness boom” is occurring in education. "Ever since a recent viral video about a Baltimore School eliminating suspensions through mindfulness training, we’ve been getting a flood of calls,” says Daniel Sunshine, director of the Mindfulness in Schools Program at the Dallas Yoga Center. The program has served more than 2,500 students and teachers to date and has a partnership with the African American Success Initiative at the Dallas Independent School District.
Mindfulness has been studied extensively in adults and is just beginning to show positive impacts on children. Some of the documented benefits of mindfulness are improved focus, reduced anxiety, better ability to handle emotional challenges and greater compassion for others. “We’ve gotten tremendous feedback from children, teachers and administrators that feel mindfulness is creating more calm and focus in the school environment,” says Sunshine. “Often, children are overwhelmed by the many demands of student life and soak up this opportunity to find more peace of mind.”
Beyond testimonial evidence of the benefits, Sunshine points to the fact that Dallas Yoga Center (DYC) has neuroscientists and psychologists on their advisory team that help maximize the evidence-based work they’re doing. “We’re excited about this initiative because we can see that it not only helps children be healthier emotionally, but studies suggest that it can help with their school performance and testing,” says Sunshine. “We provide an evidence-based, age-appropriate program focused on the whole student with exercises that are integrated throughout the school day and their everyday life.”
He notes, “Really the question is what will mindfulness look like integrated into society? People across the board are looking for ways to find stillness in the face of the busy world we live in. I believe soon, mindfulness will be a household word similar to yoga and will show up in our everyday experience; like when you eat at a local restaurant there may be reminders on the menu to be present with your experience of eating; or at the grocery store, a sign on your cart may prompt you to walk mindfully as you shop.”
It’s clear that mindfulness is making its way into the mainstream in an exciting way. Sunshine mentions that DYC has collaborated with many schools, from elementary to university, and also shares mindfulness with corporations. He exclaims, “The Dallas Yoga Center has been sharing yoga, meditation and wellness with the community since 1989 and we’re so happy to be making such a positive impact with mindfulness.”
For more information, email Mindfulness@dallasyogacenter.com.