Andy Tomlinson is a psychologist and has been teaching similar techniques to adults for 25 years.
A selection of mindfulness books I can recommend for schools and universities. Decades of research indicate the impressive benefits of mindfulness in social, emotional, and cognitive development, and as an antidote to emotional issues, attention deficits, and social difficulties.
1 The Misted Mirror - Mindfulness for Schools and Universities by Peter Mack
This is one of few books that provides readers with not only an insight into the nature of mindfulness in the context of psychotherapy, but it also takes mindfulness into the learning environment and the realm of holistic education. While the target readership are students between 13-20 years of age and teachers, mindfulness practice is equally important to all.
With a Masters degree in education, medical doctor Peter Mack explains very clearly the application of mindfulness principles to classroom learning, managing learning stress and improving teaching approaches. Included are a series of guided imagery scripts with practical exercises in mindfulness-based art expression.
2 The Mindful Education Workbook - Lessons for Teaching Mindfulness to Students by Daniel Rechtschaffen
Teachers and administrators can use this workbook which is rich in simple effective lessons, tips, charts, checklists and worksheets. They were developed through Daniel Rechtschaffen's extensive work with students and teachers in schools worldwide to support the implementation of mindfulness based lessons at school and cultivate mindful attributes like attention, compassion and well-being in students.
3 Mindful Teacher, Mindful School : Improving Wellbeing in Teaching and Learning by Kevin Hawkins
Former school teacher turned mindfulness consultant Kevin Hawkins truly understands the joys of teaching and the desire to make a real difference in the lives of students, as well as the challenges and risks of burnout that most teachers experience on a daily basis.
Packed full of DIY exercises, activities to use in the classroom and links to resources and further reading, this inspiring book will support experienced and new teachers to maintain a healthy work-life balance and thrive as a teaching professional.
4 Mindful and Acceptance for Counselling College Students by Jacqueline Pistorello
Although an expensive book Jacqueline Pistorello explores a range of therapies in conjunction with mindfulness. This includes acceptance and commitment therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction. She covers how they are being utilised by college counselling centres around the world to treat student mental health problems like severe depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. This book offers easy-to-use applications for college counsellors and therapists, and includes a website link for downloadable worksheets for students, a sample podcast, and interactive web-based materials
5 Reflective Practice in Supervision by Michael Carroll and Daphne Hewson
A rather expensive book written with a commitment to sharing their extensive knowledge and expertise in a style and format that allows you to dip into its many principles, concepts, questions, exercises and tools. As a fitting preparation for such a journey the reader is challenged to reflect on their assumptions and thinking. The reader will learn about the potential problems of reflective practice and the art of giving and receiving feedback. Ultimately, its to intentionally notice what is happening, analyse it and challenge their assumptions and then put this into new learning.
At first mindfulness may seem difficult but perseverance pays off. Mindfulness training has at least four broad beneficial effects, according to Felicia Huppert, Professor of Psychology of the University of Cambridge’s Well-Being Institute. (Huppert, 2010) Specifically, mindfulness promotes:
Increase Sensory Awareness
Mindful practices nurture the capacity to bring our sensory experience to the forefront of consciousness. In doing so, they create the mental space to stop and smell the roses, to be charmed by a child’s smile or moved by a dramatic sunset. In Western societies the thoughts in our heads are mostly about the past and the future. Being in the moment and appreciating positive sensory experiences is enjoyable and elicits positive emotions that feed into overall wellbeing. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson points out that this builds psychological and emotional resilience (Fredrickson, 2009).
Greater Cognitive Control
The goal of mindfulness is to anchor oneself to current sensory experiences and to allow thoughts to enter the mind freely. The key is to note these passing thoughts non-judgementally, without analysing them or elaborating on their contents. This creates some distance between thoughts that arise and our cognitive reactions to them. "The idea is that thoughts come and go like clouds," says Huppert. "Just because you’re having a thought doesn’t mean you have to act on it, or even that it reflects anything about reality, or you. It’s just a thought." (Huppert, 2010)
Enhanced Emotion Regulation
Our intrusive thoughts can trigger negative emotions. It’s easy to get caught up by these thoughts and to ruminate on them at length. And this increases the emotional reaction. Mindfulness encourages to let them let pass. "Simply recognising your feelings gives you a choice in how you’re going to respond, rather than reacting automatically in ways that lead to trouble," says Huppert. (Huppert, 2010)
The Capacity to Regulate Attention
Mindfulness encourages thoughts and feelings to float by without being caught up in them, and then return the focus of attention to what you are engaged in. In other words, it provides training in how to regulate and direct, at will, your attention.
The Future of Mindfulness in Schools
Just as teaching someone to play the piano or football requires the teacher to have skills in these before teaching them, so too for mindfulness. The books mentioned above are focused on schoolchildren and can equally be beneficial to teachers. According to Guy Claxton the Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester where he is a professor of learning science. "If I ruled the world I would make mindfulness mandatory – there is no downside risk, and the evidence shows these things work." (Claxton, 2008)
Claxton, G. (2008). What’s the point of school? Rediscovering the heart of education. Oxford: OneWorld.
Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity – Groundbreaking research to release your inner optimist and thrive. Oxford: OneWorld.
Huppert, F.A. & Johnson, D.M. (2010). A controlled trial of mindfulness training in schools: The importance of practice for an impact on well-being. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(4), 264–274