Last week I was lucky enough to present a mindfulness workshop to a wonderful group of preschool teachers for UMAP (United Methodist Association of Preschools). Although I have presented many workshops to teachers, parents, and other personnel (and I even teach a pediatric OTA course), this was my first time creating and presenting my very own workshop.
Let me say first that I have an infinite degree of appreciation for each and every teacher out there. The “behind-the-scenes” work that is required to get one class created is extensive and can be exhausting! Clearly teachers teach because they love their profession and what they can do to help students learn. They certainly don’t do it for the money. I experienced all this while researching, compiling information, and then putting it all together into a succinct 75 minute presentation and handout for each participant.
Now I’m a “hands-on” type of learner and I really believe that in order for someone to understand (and then teach mindfulness to others) one must experience what mindfulness feels like to them. So, I incorporated several hands-on learning experiences for the participants.
To begin with, I asked them “What is mindfulness?” I expected that I would get many people would be easily able to answer this question since the term ‘mindfulness” is a very hot subject right now. However, what surprised me the most, was that many people had heard of the term “mindfulness” but really didn’t know much about it. I presented the following definition to them.
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
This is such a great and simple description of what mindfulness is.
So then we discussed what the potential benefits were of mindfulness. I had each of them write down on a sticky note what they felt was a benefit of mindfulness. Then I had them post the sticky note on the board for us to discuss their thoughts as a group. Here is what they wrote:
-less stress or de-stress
-to relax/more relaxed
-to live better
-appreciation of friends, family, and surroundings
-helps problem solve
-pay more attention
-develop observational skills
-makes me slow down
-become a better listener
-happiness and enjoyment
-enjoying the moment
-enjoying right now
-attuned to what’s happening now
-finding and relating to my center core
-staying in the moment
-relaxation of the mind
-closeness to God
-intune with who you are
-acknowledge what is
-appreciate what you have
-not worrying about the future
So as you can see, there is a multitude of advantages for mindfulness from the perspective of preschool teachers. Believe it or not, this is only a handful of benefits of being mindful.
But not only that….there is an enormous amount of research to support mindfulness and its benefits for both adults and children. I could list it all here, but it would be an extensive list and far too long for a simple blog post.
In my next blog post, I will discuss some simple mindfulness activities that can be incorporated into the preschool classroom.