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Less Stress, Anxiety & Anger For School Kids With Mindfulness Training

Posted Dec 22 2009 12:00am

Another one of my favorite blogs, Sharp Brains, listed on my sidebar, brings much up-to-date information on neuroscience, neuroplasticity and other items of interest for those of us keen on keeping up with cutting-edge brain information.

The article of which I reproduce a small portion here, caught my eye recently:

Steve Reidman first introduced mindfulness practices to Toluca Lake Elementary in Los Angeles about six years ago. Reidman, a fourth grade teacher at the school, had been experiencing problems with classroom management—a first for him, after many years of teaching. Conflicts on the playground were escalating and affecting his students’ ability to settle down and concentrate in class. When he confided his problems to Kaiser, a personal friend, she offered to come to his class to teach mindfulness, a technique she’d taught to kids as a volunteer at a local boys and girls club.

“I noticed a difference right away,” says Reidman. “There was less conflict on the playground, less test anxiety—just the way the kids walked into the classroom was different. Our state test scores also went up that year, which I’d like to attribute to my teaching but I think had more to do with the breathing they did right before they took the test.”

News of Reidman’s positive experience spread to other classes at the school and helped launch Kaiser’s career as the founder and director of a new nonprofit organization: InnerKids. Funded through private grants, its mission is to teach mindful awareness practices to students in public and private schools for little or no cost. In the last five years, the organization has served hundreds of schools across the country and has grown to the point where there’s more demand for the program than Kaiser can handle alone. Recently, she retired from her successful law practice to devote herself fully to InnerKids. She’s now busy training new teachers. “Requests come from all over—New York, California, the Midwest,” says Kaiser. “It’s really amazing how this has caught on.”

[...] much of this was inspired by the work of Jon Kabat–Zinn, the founder of the Stress Reduction Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (and author of  Wherever You Go, There You Are). Kabat–Zinn was among the first scientists to recognize that mindfulness meditation might have healing benefits for adult patients suffering from chronic pain. He developed a secular version of the Buddhist practice, which he called Mindfulness–Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and ran studies demonstrating its effectiveness. Now, with over a thousand studies published in peer review journals about it, Kabat–Zinn’s MBSR program has been found to reduce not only chronic pain but also high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Evidence also suggests MBSR can help improve one’s ability to handle stress and alleviate depression, anxiety, post–traumatic stress, and eating disorders. Read entire article here

Photo: Labnah Arch, Yucatan Peninsula, Ruta Sur (Uxmal)

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