The Basics of Mindful Education
Healthy stress is a normal part of everyday life, it’s experienced even by children; both adults and children should be challenged to develop and grow from time to time. Unfortunately, with the education system we have today healthy stress is often overpowered by toxic stress; when the demands of life regularly outpace a person’s ability to cope with the said demands then toxic stress occurs.
Effects of Toxic Stress
Toxic stress can do a number on the body and the person might not even realize it at first; effects include, but are not limited to, impairment in mood and emotion regulation, capacity to pay attention, sleep and the readiness to learn inside classroom. Exposure to toxic stress, especially during childhood and with frequency, has lifelong impacts on physical and mental health. Toxic stress typically begins with reduced creativity and productivity which oftentimes escalate to other relentless symptom like dissociation, anxiety, frustrations and burnout. Because of toxic stress, and other defining factors, around half a million teachers in the United States leave their profession on a yearly basis.
Parents becoming prone to toxic stress is no surprise, the effects even reach a point where their parenting styles seem more like to-do lists rather than a present-centered and empathic relationship with developing children. Considerable exposure to parental stress in childhood has been proven to greatly impact gene expression even when the child has grown into adulthood. Due to the fact that every person’s response to stress involves an old survival hardware in the body, toxic stress could be extremely difficult to work with.
Mindfulness Should be the Solution
Somewhere quite deep in the body’s nervous system, lies the root of toxic stress but specific tools are required in going beyond the conceptual mind and directly accessing the system. In improving someone’s habitual responses, constant skill practice is a must especially when the body is not in a fight, flight or freeze mode. It is the development and improvement of a person’s mindfulness, a constant awareness of one’s surrounding environment, emotions, thoughts and sensation.
Mindfulness Education’s Benefits
A handful of scientific evidence points out that mindfulness education and intervention greatly improves a person’s self-control, recovery from addiction, emotional resilience, attention span, memory and immune response. Below is a brief summary of the benefits relevant to educators:
1. Overall Attention Span – greatly strengthens a person’s mental muscle, thus improving focus; the person will find it easier to focus on subjects at just about any time of the day.
2. Better Emotional Regulation – being able to observe one’s emotion aids in recognizing when these emotions occur and see their transient nature as well as effectively decide how to properly respond.
3. Resilience – being objective in the way things occur in the narrative of the world’s ups and downs being forth greater balance in a person’s life.