It’s All in the Mind!

Mr. Porzadny is the starship Enterprise of the St. Conleth’s faculty, bolding going where no Conlethian teacher has gone before…  Staff and pupils have benefitted from his ‘Relaxation’ sessions these last few years, and now he is taking us on the next step to enlightenment, introducing a ‘Mindfulness’ programme which is all the rage at the Department of Education, and for once, something from Marlborough Street actually makes good sense! 

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A sloth…because sometimes it is slow. A cheetah…because it runs very fast. A unicorn…because it is creative. An ‘anti-elephant’…because I forget stuff. A Pikachu…because it is over-rated but still pretty useful.” These are just a sample of the beautiful answers I got from my 1st years yesterday when asking them: “Which animal could we sometimes compare our mind to?” Now you may wonder, why would I ask them such question?  For the simple reason that after “playing with our attention”, but before we will look into “recognising our worries”, we started our next mindfulness lesson to discover how to “tame our animal mind”.

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It is with an immense pleasure that I am able to introduce this year the .b (pronounced ‘dot-be’) Mindfulness Programme to the 1st Year and senior cycle students of St. Conleth’s.

But what is mindfulness? Mindfulness involves training our attention to experience the present moment with greater curiosity and kindness. This helps us to not only to appreciate what is going well but also to respond more skillfully to life’s inevitable challenges. In one word, Mindfulness is all about “possibilities”.

You may have heard of mindfulness or read some of the recent media coverage about it. A great deal of this media interest has arisen because of the growing body of research evidence regarding the potential benefits of mindfulness for young people.

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As Professor Katherine Weare observed in her research summary on Evidence for the Impact  of  Mindfulness on Children and Young  People, schools who engage in mindfulness are likely to see ‘beneficial results on the emotional wellbeing, mental health, ability to learn and even the physical health of their students.’

At its most simple .b is an awareness-raising exercise to give all students a taste of mindfulness so that they know about it and can return to it later in life if they choose to do so.

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.b aims to help young people:

  • To improve their concentration and focus, in classes, in exams and tests, on the sports field, when playing games, when paying attention and listening to others.
  • To fulfil their potential and pursue their own goals e.g. be more creative, more relaxed, both academically and personally.
  • To experience greater well-being (e.g. feel happier, calmer, more fulfilled).
  • To work with difficult mental states such as anxious thoughts and low moods.
  • To cope with the everyday stresses and strains of adolescent life such as exams, relationships, sleep problems, family issues.
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The feedback from students who took part in other schools in .b is very positive.  If you are interested, there are some Testimonials on the Mindfulness in Schools Project website where you can hear students speaking about their experiences in taking part in the .b programme.

Finally, if you are interested in learning more about mindfulness yourself then please let me know, there are very accessible mindfulness courses for adults taking part on a regular basis here in Ireland.

With warm wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Julien Porzadny