Objectives for introductionFind out what mindfulness isA taste of mindfulnessSignpost where you might go next
Why do we need .b?While at one level academic studies give pupilsplenty of knowledge and undoubtedly develop theirthinking skills, they are very rarely taughtto directly investigate and to understand the mechanism which does the observing and which does the thinking.
Black cab drivers in London have to gain "the knowledge" - knowing all the routes within six-miles of Charing Cross.It takes three years of training. Most on the course drop out. Brain scans show these drivers have a larger posterior hippocampus than other people. “Taxi drivers given brain scans by scientists at University College London had a larger hippocampus compared with other people. This is a part of the brain associated with navigation in birds and animals. The scientists also found part of the hippocampus grew larger as the taxi drivers spent more time in the job.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/677048.stmHowever, whilst the brain might be the seat of your mind, its hub, it is by no means the whole thing.
Lets have a taste of mindfulness.So far I’ve talked about the brain and also the mind. Are they the same thing? Where do we naturally think of the mind as being?[Take answers – peopleend to point to the area around their head]Is it there? Okay, let’s do an experiment…Hold out your hands in front of you like so (hold them out in front of you, as if holding an invisible bowl) Now placing your attention in your hands… no need to look at them… just FEELing them… putting your attention into them. Closing your eyes if that makes it any easier. What can you feel there? A kind of tingling? Pins and needles-ish? Warmth? Coolness? NOW, where is your mind? [they tend to respond with a sense of ‘how weird… it’s in my hands’]You can also ask them to trace their attention, fairly briskly, part by part, up their arms (wrist, forearm, elbow etc.) all the way through the shoulders and up to the base of their skull, and back down. “Feel the circuitry!”
Perhaps elicit mind wandering, bringing it back.
One way of thinking about it is a switch from Thinking mode to Sensing mode
So lets refine our definition from Kung Fu Panda:
However, we do not often do this. Understanding what mindfulness is may be easier if we explore its opposite, mindlessness, which ironically can be when our minds are too full! For much of the time we most of us tend to live in a preoccupied state in which the here and now is hardly experienced. Our heads are full of chatter, often anxiously ruminating on the past or planning obsessively for the future. In so far as we are thinking about what is happening right now we tend to view our present experience through a filter of self-centred judgements and labels - such as whether what is happening is pleasant or unpleasant, interesting or boring, useful or pointless and so on. Invite them to close their eyes and think about how they often operate out of this kind of state. Our minds are also often disconnected our body, and so unaware of the potentially valuable information that it has to tell us, such as stress warning signs, or the emotions that are driving our behaviour.Mindfulness training and regular practice can give greater access to a state of calm concentrated focus on the here and now - more reliably, more often and more at will than most of us normally experience.
Then – so how do we anchor ourselves in the present. The next practice provides a tried, tested and powerful way of doing so.
7/11 punctuated by normal breaths. - One way of grounding yourself in the present moment is to focus on what the body is doing… simply observing your breath for example. One exercise for example, is called the 7-11.Do a 7-11 with them, in which you ask them to count from 1-7 as they breathe in, and from 1-11 as they breathe out. There is no need for them to change the breath… just (for example) speed up your counting towards the end if you think the inbreath will finish before you get to 7.The objective here is simply for them to pay attention to the breath by becoming aware of where exactly they are moment by moment in each breath.Most of you, I imagine, for those seconds, were completely focussed on the present moment activity. That is a little mechanism, an exercise, which you can take with you anywhere. If you feel yourself getting really stressed, or angry, then use it.However, it takes practice to get good at this. At first the mind wanders constantly, but with practice we learn to sustain our attention and direct it more skilfully. This helps break the grip of unhelpful mental habits, judgements and impulses, making way for greater calm, and for more helpful, kinder and rational thinking about all aspects of life.
Research is increasing exponentially and an increasing numbers of studies have shown reasonably strong evidence for the positive impact of mindfulness on a wide range of mental and physical health conditions. It has been shown to address physical health problems directly, and is effective in reducing pain, high blood pressure, in improving the symptoms of physical conditions such as psoriasis and fibromyalgia. Mindfulness has also clearly been shown to be effective in improving mental health too, addressing problems such as substance abuse, stress, anxiety and recurrent depression, and to improve sleep.
Mindfulness is not wishful thinking - there is sound evidence behind it. Some of that evidence comes from neuroscience which is adding to our knowledge of how mindfulness works to alter the way the brain works. This is a depiction by brain scientists.Thoughts travel like electrical impulses through physical networks within the brain called synapses and neurons.The human brain has 100 billion neurons [“brain cells”]. Each neuron is connected by synapses to about 10,000 other neurons. These synaptic connections are very complex and are changing all the time as we have different thoughts and feelings. The more we have particular types of thoughts and feelings, the more this repetition creates stronger synaptic connections – ‘wider roads’, if you like. This makes us more likely to have this particular type of thought or feeling again.You might mention the phrase from neuroscience : “Neurons that fire together wire together.”
Brain imaging studies on adults are showing that mindfulness meditation reliably and profoundly alters the structure and function of the brain to improve the quality of both thought and feeling. It produces greater blood flow too, and a thickening of, the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. Although the most striking changes are observable in long term meditators, brain changes are clearly observable in people who have only been meditating for eight weeks for an average of under half an hour a day. In these subjects, imaging showed increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although studies have not yet been done on children’s brains there is no reason to suppose the changes would not be similar.
Adapt these slides!!!!!!!!!!! Add in PWC – for Future Leader type people. Google – PWC – Amazon. They might not pay any tax – but at least they are mindful. (ASIDE BESIDES: OH CRAP – I HAVE TO DO AN ASSEMBLY< ALL OFSTED MENTION)SO mindfulness can help you to get out of many difficult things.[Click through images]. If you have a good knowledge of MBCT and MBSR you might expand a little on a few of these in order to reassure the class that mindfulness is a serious discipline the effectiveness of which is backed up by a very large and rapidly growing body of research evidence.BUT it can also help you move towards many wonderful things…
Lets practice training the attention. Then reflection: Issues to come up: Mind wanderingDealing skillfullyAutopilot
So we can see that training our attention is a bit like training a puppy. I tell my attention to focus here, or focus there, or do this, or do that, but it doesn’t stay still. It doesn’t do what I say.It’s like training a puppy to “stay” or “heel”. You put the puppy down and say “stay”. Does the puppy listen? No. It gets up and runs away. You sit the puppy back down again. “Stay”. And the puppy runs away over and over again. Sometimes it jumps up and down, sometimes it yelps, pees in the corner or worse. Minds don’t tend to stay still either, at least in the early stages of our mind-training.The other thing the puppy does is bring things back to you that you didn’t even want. It runs off and finds an old sock or a half-chewed shoe. This is just like the mind trying to pay attention. You ask it to pay attention to one thing, and it goes off and thinks about something completely unrelated! As one mindfulness teacher says: “Our minds are much the same as puppies, only they create bigger messes.”
Take out – for later
Note that the picture above is of LA Lakers player Kobe Bryant. The LA Lakers were coached by Phil Jackson, widely regarded as the most successful basketball coach in the history of the game (11 NBA championships). Jackson used to teach his teams mindfulness. Here is a quote from Jackson:“When players practice what is known as mindfulness–paying attention to what’s actually happening–not only do they play better and win more, they also become more attuned to each other.” And here is a quote about him:"He teaches calm," says Chuck Person, of his boss Phil Jackson. "He teaches you how to find your way in the maze, in the chaos. You can always go back and find yourself with that breath. I've learned during anxious moments, since I have been here with the Lakers, that breath is very important to take to center yourself. Players do it. They get together, take a breath, collect their thoughts, so they can perform.” Chuck Person, L.A. Lakers Player – ESPN Article June 10th, 2010
An Introduction to Mindfulness for Educationalists - Amanda Bailey, Bright Futures Educational Trust
Bright Futures Educational Trust
The mind is its own
place, and in itself, can
make a Heav’n of
Hell, a hell of Heav’n
Discuss in pairs:
• How was that?
• What did you notice?
Seeing Tasting Touching
Two modes of mind
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves paying attention…
in the present moment
with curiosity and kindness
…to things as they are
• Since waking up today, what have you done
• Where do our minds tend to be when we’re
• What’s it like being on autopilot?
• What might the implications of the chocolate
exercise and these reflections be for how you
go through a day at work?
Figure 1. An example of growth in the
mindfulness research literature across 30
years, 1980 - 2010
Notes. Results obtained from a search of the term "mindfulness" in the
abstract and keywords of the ISI Web of Knowledge database on Feb.
5, 2011. The search was limited to publications with English language
Professor Mark Williams
Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme: non-
randomised controlled feasibility study
Universities of Exeter and Oxford
Phil Jackson – LA Lakers Basketball coach
“When players practice
what’s known as
mindfulness – being
more embodied and
paying attention to
happening – not only
do they play better and
win more, they also
become more attuned
to each other.”