Fort River is doing Mindfulness, everywhere.  You’ll see “Breathe” signs on the walls, observe kindergarten students mindfully moving parts of their bodies, focusing on one part at time, or notice fifth graders taking a few moments to stop their studies to breathe.

What is Mindfulness?  Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.  When you're mindful, your attention is focused in a relaxed, open, attentive and curious way; all important aspects of both learning and feeling happy.  As kindergarten students have said, “it’s when your mind is full of smarts”, “thinking about 1 thing at a time” and “makes things feel easy and relaxed”.   Mindfulness helps to develop self-awareness, regulate emotions, control impulses, increase perseverance, build students’ empathy and understanding of others’ perspectives, and helps students to make good decisions.  When students are calm and peaceful, the information they’ve absorbed can flow to the front of the brain (prefrontal cortex) where learning, reasoning and thinking occurs.  This highly evolved part of the brain controls our decision making, focuses our attention and allows us to predict, comprehend and learn to read, write and understand math.  Mindfulness increases students’ ability to learn and decreases their stress.  This is why we’re doing Mindfulness at Fort River.

Although meditation is one form of Mindfulness, there are many ways to practice it.  When eating an orange, washing dishes, noticing a rainbow or stretching your body.  Using mindfulness during these activities means attending to the present:  to the smell of the orange peel, the taste of the juice, the feel of the warm water, the sight of the vibrant colors of the rainbow or to how each muscle feels while you stretch.  And if another, different thought comes into your mind, let it go without judgement and return to thinking about the orange, rainbow, water or muscle; only single tasking your brain.

Here are some resources for further information about Mindfulness:

·         Holistic Life Foundation:  Working primarily with urban youth such as in the Baltimore Schools


 ·         Two well established and researched programs:  http://thehawnfoundation.org/mindup/

       o   and https://mindfulnessinschools.org/courses/dotb/.

·         What is Mindfulness?  http://morethansound.net/mindfulness/