The “Mindful Expansion”
We are in the midst of the “Mindful Expansion.” This once “alternative” practice is now mainstream. Mindfulness has made its way onto the cover of Scientific American Magazine, Psychologies, Newsweek, and Time Magazine (twice). Despite this rapid rise in popularity, or perhaps because of it, mindfulness is often dismissed as another passing trend. There is an established movement to prove the value mindfulness in various contexts. With the publication of over 1,800 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles showing the benefits of mindfulness in 2018 alone, I can assure you that there is more to this trend than just marketing.
Let’s take a closer look at what exactly mindfulness is, how to practice it, what the benefits are, and some simple tips on getting started.
The word practice is essential to our understanding of mindfulness. There is no end goal or box to check when it comes to mindfulness; rather, mindfulness is the continual practice of paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. If you’ve been harboring any notions of an enlightened yogi meditating on a mountaintop, it may be best to dispense of those now. Mindfulness is in the realm of the ordinary. It is reflected in the level of focus, attention, and awareness we bring to our daily interactions with our self, others, and the world around us.
Viktor Frankl, neurologist and psychiatrist, describes mindfulness beautifully:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.
When we develop our capacity to direct our attention, without judgment, to the present moment we find this space between something outside ourselves and our reaction – at first that space is as small as the gap between thoughts, or as simple as a deep breath. Over time, it becomes a space that teacher and student can observe together. From this space, we move from a place of reacting to a stance of empowerment, choice, and freedom.
Mindfulness In the Classroom
In my classroom, we spend between 1 and 3 minutes on mindful practice. This allows plenty of time for course content and activities related to teaching the material at hand. The ultra-brief method is showing promising results for educational outcomes as well as mediating a decrease in mindfulness over the course of the semester.
Next time, I’ll discuss how you can bring mindfulness to the classroom with a few examples and exercises. In the meantime, please reach out to me and connect about research, collaborations, and discussions.
Frankl, V., & Lasch, I. (1946). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. London: Hodder & Stoughton