‘Mindfulness’ has become a buzz-word in today’s media. When you hear it, the image of monks meditating in the hills of Nepal may spring to mind. Or hippies zenned out, slurring words while displaying a ‘peace sign’ with 2 fingers held in the air. I could safely assume that you didn’t first imagine young students, teachers, and musicians practising mindfulness in the classroom...
As the word is thrown around left, right, and centre constantly, we have to clarify what mindfulness actually means. According to Dictionary.com, the definition is as follows: a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Based on the previous definition, mindfulness isn’t just meditation. It could be walking to class, immersed in the sensation of your feet on the pavement, the air on your exposed skin, or being aware of your emotions while playing a piece of music and feeling the volume of sound in your ears rising & falling.
Mindfulness & music truly go hand-in-hand. Musicians spend a lot of time – even as children – in a state of ‘solitary absorption’, or more commonly called practice. And when there is a performance at play, musicians seek a state of “creative flow”, where all preparation & ideal circumstance, combines resulting in a performance that feels natural, enjoyable, and lacks nervous self-consciousness. Integrating mindfulness can be a major assistance in achieving ‘creative flow’ and to maintain a state of calm during musical practise and performance.
With a staggering 1 in 4 secondary students in Australia suffering from mental illness, peer support & the implementation of proactive approaches to prevent mental health issues, should be a top priority in our schools. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to assist in managing emotions and mental wellbeing, showing we should all be implementing this therapeutic technique in our daily lives.
A free national program has been developed by mindfulness education organisation, Smiling Mind and Frasers Property Australia. The program has been implemented in 23 schools across Australia & used by over 18,400 students. 921 teachers have introduced mindfulness through a range of guided meditations & activities through the program, and some of the benefits experienced include:
Developing emotional intelligence
Enhancing decision making and problem-solving skills
A sense of calm, clarity & contentment
Incorporating mindful meditation activities in your class time may not be an option for you, however, you can practise being present, being aware, reaching out to peers, and creating a safe environment for your students.
Schools interested in participating in the Smiling Mind program can find out more at www.smilingmind.com.au