WELLBEING- LESSON 4- 

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION

PURPOSE: ACTIVELY THINKING ABOUT POSITIVE THINGS THAT HAPPEN DURING THE DAY IMPROVES WELLBEING. USE THIS ACTIVITY TO GET STUDENTS THINKING AND SHARING ABOUT WHAT MADE THEM HAPPY TODAY!

PURPOSE: ACTIVELY THINKING ABOUT POSITIVE THINGS THAT HAPPEN DURING THE DAY IMPROVES WELLBEING. USE THIS ACTIVITY TO GET STUDENTS THINKING AND SHARING ABOUT WHAT MADE THEM HAPPY TODAY!


PART 1- (5 MINUTES)

Rationale

  • There are significant physical and psychological benefits of meditation.
  • While meditation does not work for everyone, in every situation, some of the main benefits are focussing our attention and calming anxiety, especially before exams and performances.
  • There is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates the effects meditation has on managing stress, combatting heart disease, lowering blood pressure, boosting our immune systems, building our defence against cancer, slowing the rate at which we age, improving our mood, raising our awareness, and increasing attention and clarity (Michie, 2008; Davidson, et al., 2003).

Learning objectives

By the end of this lesson, learners should:

  • list and understand some of the benefits of meditation
  • participate in a short meditation

PART 2- BALANCE ACTIVITY- (5 MINUTES)

Students stand around the room, facing the wall.

Place your right heel on your left knee.

Stand on your left leg only, with your EYES CLOSED.

Try this for 20 seconds. Then change sides.

Now try again, this time with your EYES OPEN and fixed on a point on the wall.

DEBRIEF: Which did you find easier- eyes closed, or eyes open? (Usually, eyes open is easier).

 

Explain that it is usually easier for most people because with our eyes open, we are able to anchor ourselves and focus our attention more clearly on a single point.

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION works in a similar way. By being in the present moment, noticing what we are doing, and focussing our attention. This focussing of attention, is a little bit like our GRATITUDE lesson, journal and homework- covered in the previous THRIVE lesson.


 

PART 2- watch clip- (5 MINUTES)

Famous people who meditate. UPP go through the benefits of meditating. Try meditation today.


PART 3- mindfulness activity- THE FIVE COUNT BREATH- (10 MINUTES)

Before having a go, let's get organised. Sit comfortably, quietly and still in your chair for a few minutes. Students are encouraged to close their eyes and centre themselves for some quiet time. (If your group has not done this before, please take the effort to set them up for success before playing the below clip. The more used to the process they become, the easier it is each time to set them up).

DISCUSS: Did you find it easy or hard to count the breaths? Did you get distracted? Do you feel any different after this short meditation? Do you think it would be easier / less distracting doing this in a quiet place at home? When might you try this again (eg exam week, sports carnival, etc)?


PART 4- watch, reflect, discuss- (15 MINUTES)

Watch "How mindfulness can change your brain" by Jeffrey Schwartz.
As you listen, record 2-3 dot points about what you already knew and 2-3 points of new information.

At the end of the clip, students should reflect on two questions:

1. What are some of the benefits of meditation?

2. How is the research about mindfulness linked to the growth mindset?

Our brains are "plastic." That is, they can change. The brain's pre-frontal cortex controls "executive functions" - the home of decision making, attention, focus, and social self-control. Research psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz explains how mindfulness can improve executive function and enhance cognition, if practiced consistently, over time.


PART 5- HOMEWORK

Do "THE FIVE COUNT BREATH" activity (or similar) each day this week in your own time- you can do it with or without the guidance of a narrator. The Smiling Mind App is free and has plenty of guided meditations. It should only take a few minutes each day, and you may find it leads to more calm, less anxiety and better focus. It is not helpful for everyone, but it's worth a try.