Introduction to Mindfulness

As our tech inquiry, our group has decided to explore different mindfulness applications available on mobile devices. In this inquiry, we will each test out one mindfulness app, document our experience using it, and then find some research articles which discuss how mindfulness can be implemented into the classroom.

In essence, mindfulness is the ability to be completely present in the moment  – paying full attention to our thoughts, feelings and experiences without judgement. Practicing mindfulness has a wide variety of health benefits, including decreased feelings of stress, frustration and sadness as well as heightened levels of focus and happiness.

This quote from the Headspace app website provides a thorough yet succinct explanation of why mindfulness is such an important skill:

Mindfulness doesn’t eliminate stress or other difficulties; instead, by becoming aware of unpleasant thoughts and emotions that arise because of challenging situations, we have more choice in how to handle them in the moment — and a better chance of reacting calmly and empathetically when faced with stress or challenges.

Not only does mindfulness meditation helps to change one’s mindset and perspective, but it also changes the shape of our brains, rewiring them towards more positive thoughts and emotions by increasing grey matter (the part of the brain in charge of planning, problem solving and emotional regulation) and cortical thickness (responsible for memory and learning). In addition, the amygdala, which manages our levels of fear, stress and anxiety, decreases in size with regular meditation practice.

The App – Stop, Breathe, Think Kids (SBT Kids)

Stop, Breathe, Think Kids is a version of the original Stop, Breathe, Think mindfulness app. Developed in collaboration with mindfulness and meditation expert Susan Kaiser Greenland, SBT Kids uses a ‘mission’ type model to display different mindfulness activities in the app. Based on what they would like to do, children can choose missions from different categories:

  • Quiet
  • Focus
  • Caring & Connecting
  • Energizing
  • Meltdown
  • Open mind
  • Sleep
  • Bedtime Stories

In my next post, I will document my experience using and exploring the tools given within the free version of SBT Kids.