What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness at MDI can be summed up as “inner education.” The practice of mindfulness helps us to be a scientist of our experience and supports us in:

  • Understanding and training attention.
  • More clearly noticing thoughts, emotions, and feelings and learning to relate to them in a healthier way.
  • Noticing the patterns of our mind and intentionally cultivating qualities and habits that are more aligned with our values.
  • Learning how to better connect, attune, and empathize with others.
  • Developing more awareness of our relationship with our environment.

Mindfulness Reinforces Social/Emotional Learning

Mindfulness and social/emotional learning (SEL) are mutually reinforcing. While SEL emphasizes self-management, relational skills, and responsible decision making, mindfulness practices help lay the supporting groundwork in students’ brains and nervous systems. Specifically, mindfulness practices target the key skills of attentional control, self-awareness, emotional regulation, kindness, and empathy.

In practice, if students know SEL strategies, but they don’t have the attentional skills to pause and consider how they will respond to a triggering situation, then it will be difficult for them to change their behavior. The practice of mindfulness can give students the skills and tools they need.

Mindfulness Supports Equity and Inclusion

Mindfulness helps us see our interconnectedness with others. It supports the work of equity and inclusion by strengthening our ability to recognize and question, with curiosity, the ways our minds, relationships, habits, and institutions are rooted in systems developed to justify the unfair distribution of resources. Through the practice of mindfulness, we refine the skills we need to work together to create new systems of relating—systems rooted in justice and kindness.

Teaching mindfulness to children and teens gives the next generation a way to relate to the present moment and each other with lovingkindness and care at its core. Mindfulness can empower young people to apply their skills of awareness in their communities and use them to accelerate the pace of social change.