The simple practice of bringing a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment helps our students develop compassion, focus, curiosity and empathy.
Mindfulness changes the brain
Our students enjoy weekly mindfulness classes to develop a deeper connection with their self and a greater understanding of their mind.
Drawing from the neuroscience based Mind-Up program, our curriculum aims to foster social and emotional awareness, enhance psychological well-being and promote strong interpersonal relationships.
There are three key components of the curriculum; mindfulness, neuroscience and a breathing process called Core Practice.
Intertwined with these mindful sensory experiences is an increased awareness of social emotional learning, such as reflecting on social interactions, active listening, repeating back what others say, connecting with feelings and needs, widening vocabulary to explain experiences, reading facial expressions and body language.
"The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it"
- Thich Nhat Hanh
The core practice is a combination of deep belly breathing and attentive listening. Students sit comfortably with eyes closed or gaze lowered, they listen carefully to the resonant sound of a Tibetan singing bowl or chime while focusing on breathing slowly and deeply into the belly. The students are taught the belly breathing technique and neuroscience behind attentive listening to support their practice. This technique allows students space to ‘reset’ their thinking and feeling and bring themselves into a greater heart- mind coherence. It’s from this space that they can then engage in more joyful and curious ways with their classmates and work. The practice only takes a few minutes and will be incorporated up to three times into the schooling day.
The students begin their journey into neuroscience by learning about three key players in the brain, the amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The Amygdala, is a pair of almond shaped structures located within the limbic system that react to fear, danger and threat. The amygdala regulates our emotional state by acting as the brain’s “security guard” protecting us from threats, incoming stimuli is processed as a reactive response of “fight, flight or freeze”.
The second player is the hippocampus another limbic system structure and is referred to as the “memory saver”. It assists in managing our response to fear and threats and is a storage vault of memory and learning.
The limbic system feeds to the prefrontal cortex the learning, reasoning and thinking centre of the brain and is referred to as the “wise leader”. Learning about these key players helps children to understand how their brain responds to stress and prepares them to create a calm mindset for thoughtful decision making.
The students will also learn about neuroplasticity, the parts of a neuron, the reticular activating system that sorts and screens sensory input, types of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, function of cortisol and executive functioning.
The students become aware of focusing on the here and now in a considerate, non-judgemental way. Students learn that they can produce a well thought out response by engaging the reflective prefrontal cortex rather than the reactive amygdala. It’s important to not place judgement on either way of acti as being good or bad but simply bring attention to how we can be aware of our responses, how sometimes our brain reacts before we have a chance to think about it. Taking time to assess a situation and use the senses to sink into the moment creates the space to ignite the prefrontal cortex.
Mindful listening is the focus in core practice, mindful tasting is the focus of meal times, mindful seeing can help create more accuracy in work, mindful hearing can increase the joy of engaging with others in conversation mindful smelling connects pleasurable memories with scents and heightens the experience of eating.