It seems a tipping point has been reached with regard to ‘mindfulness’ and it being a regular part of our national and international conversations. It’s only a few years since ‘mindfulness’ was first mentioned on television or radio, but is there anyone with any curiosity who’s still unaware of what it is and why it’s attracting so much attention?
The importance of mindfulness for a 3D Eye view of multiple intelligences is that it’s an essential component of what we call ‘personal intelligence’ – the realm of insight, knowledge and understanding of oneself. Mindfulness is to ‘personal intelligence’ what empathy is to social intelligence and what intuition is to spiritual intelligence.
The relevance of this to education should be obvious. What are we doing in schools if we’re not paying attention to young people’s developing understanding of themselves – their self-consciousness. self-esteem, self-discipline, self-awareness, self-confidence, etc? These aspects of learning ought to be covered and developed within the ‘personal’ component of what we call PSHE. Unfortunately PSHE isn’t even a compulsory element of what happens in schools, and where it is on offer then it’s often through relatively tokenistic ‘circle times’ or ‘SEAL’ sessions rather than part of an integrated whole-school effort.
These thoughts have been triggered by listening to Vishvapani Blomfield’s thoughts on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday, in the ‘Thought For Today’ slot.
“Vishvapani speaks with a calm, quiet reasonableness that gently chides yet encourages us all to find the courage to live with uncertainty”
Vishvapani works as a trainer in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training through Mindfulness in Action.
Earlier this week the BBC’s ‘PM’ programme on Radio 4 drew attention to the secular mindfulness sessions that have been provided for members of the UK parliament to help them become less stressed and more focused in their daily lives.
The Huffington Post also reported on these sessions:
MPs Slow The Westminster Treadmill With Weekly ‘Mindfulness’ Meetings
Chris Ruane, the Vale of Clwyd MP, is parliament’s leading advocate of mindfulness – a form of meditation he describes as “the breath that allows us to anchor ourselves in the present”. And the technique for battling stress has a growing fan base within the walls of the Palace of Westminster, where under-pressure politicians are being taught to spend less time focusing on the things that drain them. So far 50 MPs and peers have taken part in weekly mindfulness sessions in parliament.
“Although initially sceptical,” one MP who has attended the course says. “I am a convert. I’ll be recommending it to all those who work with the young people in my constituency.”
“People are far from their natures,” Ruane, a member of the home affairs committee and a former Labour whip, explains. “The whole pace of life has speeded up. We are all on a hedonic treadmill. You get on it in the morning and you’re on it all day long,” he says. “How fast do you want to go on a treadmill? Have you got the means and mechanisms to slow yourself down or step off? I think mindfulness can help. It’s helped for me. And those MPs and Lords speak about rebalancing their lives, re-prioritising, deciding what’s important.”
Ruane, a former teacher, came across meditation in 1997 while teaching primary school children. And he hopes that with the increase in the number of MPs taking it up – it will start to inform policy. “The more we can develop mindfulness in the heart of parliament and in the heart of government the more mindful policies we can develop,” he says.
In 2004, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved mindfulness as a legitimate way to treat depression. And the scientific backing is crucial in persuading GPs and hospitals to prescribe it rather than anti-depressants and for schools to practise it with stressed and depressed students. “The more science that we see the more belief that there is,” Ruane agrees. He says of some doctors: “They don’t practise it themselves; they don’t know the worth of it”.
He adds: “It’s cheaper in the long term, the science is proven, it puts the individual in control and there are no long term consequences.”
Statistics that show 32% of people aged 16-24 suffer from psychiatric conditions also deeply worry Ruane. He says this suggests there are mental health problems of “almost epidemic proportions” among young people – and that it may only get worse. “It’s one of those issues like national security, like care for the elderly where you could develop consensus on it. Mental health is a massive issue with huge financial costs. There are societal issues that I think mindfulness could help to address.”
Chris Ruane: The Mindful Politician
Even Time magazine, which likes to see itself as the voice of the zeitgeist, featured mindfulness on its front cover this month:
The Mindful Revolution
Finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently
I’m eating a raisin. But for the first time in my life, I’m doing it differently. I’m doing it mindfully. This whole experience might seem silly, but we’re in the midst of a popular obsession with mindfulness as the secret to health and happiness — and a growing body of evidence suggests it has clear benefits. The class I’m taking is part of a curriculum called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-educated scientist.
The raisin exercise reminds us how hard it has become to think about just one thing at a time. If distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our age, then mindfulness, in the eyes of its enthusiasts, is the most logical response.
Read more: The Mindful Revolution – TIME http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2163560,00.html#ixzz2uc6G0SBz
It’s not 3D Eye’s mission to persuade anyone to take up mindfulness meditation, but we do propose that all those who work with children and young people and therefore have some responsibility for their wellbeing should make themselves aware of what secular mindfulness is and of the benefits it can offer.
Articles by Vishvapani:
The Basis of Mindfulness and Meditation Practice
Mindfulness is more Relevant Than Ever
Mindfulness in Westminster on PM (BBC Radio 4 News)
Mindfulness is Political
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00szv6m – Vishvapani – The benefits of connecting with nature through cultivating gardens.