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Why Is Mindfulness Needed in Education?

With our lives moving and changing faster than ever, mounting academic pressures and social expectations faced by our educators and students are leading to mental, emotional and physical imbalances. These challenges are adversely impacting our educational communities and school cultures.

We need a response that addresses the overall health and sustainability of learning environments and supports the wellbeing of every educator, student, and member of the school community.

Restful Waters Mindful Schools facilitators support educators to explore different aspects of mindfulness practice in their classrooms and everyday lives, while helping to cultivate open and curious minds.

Students

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Growing up and developing a sense of self and belonging is challenging in itself, yet students are now exposed to more challenges than ever:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 adolescents will meet the criteria for anxiety disorder by the age of 18
  • In western societies, students spend up to 9 hours a day on digital entertainment, excluding schoolwork

An increasing number of students today face challenges that affect their ability to focus attention, regulate difficult emotions, build inner resilience, and form healthy and supportive relationships.

In response, we need to learn effective ways to help calm our students’ anxious nervous systems while providing them with nurturing experiences and positive learning environments.

Educators

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Educators face the task of teaching our future generations and are expected to achieve higher academic results consistently with students who are often internally dysregulated. Teachers need the support to help their students feel calm and connected.

This task is impacted by managing unsustainable conditions which result in:

  • 61% of teachers reporting being stressed out
  • 58% of teachers saying their mental health is “not good”

These results impact an educators’ productivity and creativity, escalating to more serious symptoms such as anxiety, dissociation, frustration and possibly even burnout.

In response, we need to provide more support and investment in educators’ development and wellbeing.

Healthy Stress vs Toxic Stress

Healthy stress is a natural part of life, including childhood. Children and adults alike need to be challenged in order to grow and develop. However, in the contemporary education system, healthy stress is often displaced by toxic stress.

Toxic stress occurs when life’s demands consistently outpace our ability to cope with those demands.

Toxic stress is challenging to work with because the stress response taps into some very old survival hardware in our evolutionary biology.

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The Mindful Solution

Mindfulness offers a supportive way for student and educator communities to thrive!

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Reducing Stress in Education

The roots of stress and toxic stress lie deep in the nervous system. We need tools that go beyond the conceptual mind to directly target that system.

When a student says that she feels she “was going to die” from test anxiety, she’s telling the truth. The responses of her autonomic nervous system are the same whether she’s doing a test or sensing actual physical danger.

Even children who have not suffered adverse childhood experiences may struggle with frequent “mismatches” between the severity of a stimulus and their response. In children suffering from trauma, these “mismatches” become chronic and habitual.

To transform our habitual responses and build resilience, we need to create space to regularly practice our skills when we are not in fight – flight – freeze mode, when we are present, aware and calm!

How Mindfulness Can Help

Mindfulness is a critical, foundational skill for both educators and students who are living in our increasingly complex world. When educators integrate mindfulness into their school communities, the conditions for greater wellbeing, resilience, kindness, and effective learning are cultivated, shifting the outcomes for an entire generation of young people.

For both adults and children, practicing mindfulness helps decrease stress and anxiety and allows us to regulate our nervous systems for emotional balance, increase attention, improve interpersonal relationships, and strengthen compassion.

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The Neuroscience

Mindfulness literally changes our brains in the following ways:

  1. The amygdala is activated when detecting and reacting to emotions, especially difficult or strong emotions such as fear. After completing mindfulness training, this part of the brain is less activated and has less grey matter density.
  2. The hippocampus is critical to learning and memory and helps regulate the amygdala. The hippocampus is more activated and produces more grey matter density after mindfulness training.
  3. The prefrontal cortex is most associated with maturity, including regulating emotions and behaviours and making wise decisions. This part of the brain is more activated and developed following mindfulness training.
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Mindfulness Benefits in Education

Solid scientific evidence shows that mindfulness practice improves attention, self-control, emotional resilience, recovery from addiction, memory, immune response, and more. The benefits outlined below are particularly relevant to educators; these are fundamental human abilities that when fostered through mindfulness practice will contribute to greater wellbeing in our school communities.

Manage Stress & Anxiety

Manage Stress & Anxiety

Mindfulness practice helps educators notice the impact of toxic stress and anxiety and develop the skills to more effectively transform stressful situations.

Model Compassion & Kindness

Model Compassion & Kindness

As an educator’s mindfulness practice deepens, they develop a stronger capacity for self-care and self-compassion and an ability to nurture, comfort, and heal themselves, students, and others.

Foster Empathy & Connection

Foster Empathy & Connection

Mindfulness practice is a powerful way to develop a deeper sense of connection with both ourselves and others. Building our capacity for empathy supports us in effective communication, collaboration and leadership.

Strengthen Cognitive Health & Attention

Strengthen Cognitive Health & Attention

Mindfulness contributes to greater clarity in executive choice, decision-making, and healthy cognitive functioning. It strengthens our “mental muscle” for bringing focus back where we want it, when we want it.

Cultivate Awareness & Balance

Cultivate Awareness & Balance

Mindfulness gives us the skills to be present with our emotions, especially the difficult ones. Mindfulness practice can help reduce their intensity and impact on us and allows for new possibilities and patterns to be developed.

Grow Resilience

Grow Resilience

Mindfulness equips educators with resources like patience, flexibility, and equanimity, helping them to cope with adversity. Cultivating positive states – calm, relaxation, and peace – builds our inner strength to take on the daily challenges in schools.

Educator Benefits

When teachers learn mindfulness, they enjoy personal benefits such as greater mental and emotional balance and an increased sense of wellbeing. In randomised controlled trials, teachers who learned mindfulness experienced:

  • Reduced stress and burnout
  • Greater efficacy in doing their jobs
  • More emotionally supportive classrooms
  • Better classroom organisation
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Student Benefits

Studies find that youth benefit from learning mindfulness which may lead to long term improvements in life, such as improved educational and employment outcomes, reduced crime and substance abuse rates, and overall better mental health outcomes in adulthood.

Youth who practice mindfulness develop:

  • Attention & Learning Skills
    Heightens focus and cognitive development.
  • Social & Emotional Skills
    Improves behaviour in school, empathy and perspective taking and
    social skills.
  • Resilience
    Supports emotional regulation, reducing anxiety and stress, post-traumatic symptoms and depression.
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About Us

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Founded in 2012, in Perth Western Australia, Restful Waters is a not-for-profit organisation offering wellness programs to individuals, families, communities and organisations, specialising in Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi & Counselling services.

Our dedicated Restful Waters Mindful Schools Team members are professionally trained in teaching secular mindfulness and our organisation utilises the Mindful Schools Curriculum. All team members have current working with children checks.

Restful Waters Mindful Schools facilitators support educators to explore different aspects of mindfulness practice in their classrooms and everyday lives, while helping to cultivate open and curious minds.

Restful Waters is motivated to help create peace in classrooms …

Because teaching is incredibly challenging work

Because teaching is incredibly challenging work

Teachers need more support. Education attracts some of the most diligent and hard-working people, but teaching in a modern, performance-oriented education system is challenging. Mindfulness assists teachers with skills to improve focus and manage stress, allowing them to feel nourished and energised.

Because apps can’t model the power of presence

Because apps can’t model the power of presence

Children absorb and learn more through observation, mirroring, and modelling. Our mindfulness facilitators embody the qualities they wish to cultivate in students through their curious listening, caring words, and unreactive actions. It’s not just what we teach,
but how we teach it.

Because curriculum alone doesn’t change culture

Because curriculum alone doesn’t change culture

Mindful Schools curriculum is research-backed and adaptable; but we know that mindfulness has its benefits beyond the curriculum. We help teachers skilfully integrate mindfulness into all learning activities – positively shifting classroom culture to cultivate new ways of thinking, learning, and being that permeates through the school community.

Because we’re in this for the long game

Because we’re in this for the long game

We’re committed to long-term, sustainable solutions. Our program works hand in hand with school communities in a partnership to cultivate the inner resources that allow students and teachers to thrive despite the challenges at school, and inspire them to share the benefits of their mindfulness practice with everyone they interact with.

Restful Waters are Partners of Mindful Schools

Mindful Schools Curriculum is taught in over 100 countries, impacting more than 3 million students worldwide.

Mindful Schools Vision

Mindful Schools Vision

Our vision is for all children to learn in schools that encourage greater awareness, focused attention, and compassionate action.

These healthy and sustainable “mindful schools” will prepare a new generation of students to lead an awake and thriving world.

Mindful Schools Mission

Mindful Schools Mission

We train, guide, and connect educators on a journey to deepen their mindfulness practice and cultivate mindful learning environments that allow everyone in the school community to thrive.

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Our Team

Dakini Williams

Managing Director | Counsellor | Mindfulness Trainer

Dakini Williams has been a dedicated practitioner of meditation and mindfulness for the past 22 years.

In her dedication, Dakini became a founding director of The Vishrant Buddhist Society, a not-for profit charity dedicated to supporting higher consciousness and the wellbeing of the community.

Dakini is passionate about mindfulness and received formal secular mindfulness training from Mindful Schools to teach both students in schools and adult groups.

As a counsellor, Dakini incorporates mindfulness and self-inquiry into her successful counselling practice. She is committed to supporting people develop the life skills that mindfulness offers.

Dakini brings a caring presence and a bright aliveness to her mindfulness training that speaks to both youth and adults.

Tosh Kha

Program Manager | Mindfulness Trainer

Tosh is a dedicated practitioner of mindfulness and meditation.

Realising the benefits of being in touch with inner stillness and silence, he loves to share his passion for meditation with others. He is devoted to living a life of service.

Tosh is passionate about education and was a high school mathematics and physics teacher, during which he found mindfulness to be a valuable skill for helping students become calmer and more connected to their mental and emotional world and to navigate school life. He has received professional and formal training to teach secular mindfulness to school students.

Contact Us

Get in touch to find out more about our primary & high school mindfulness programs.

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Call Us

+61 418 229 662

Email Us

info@restfulwaters.org

Find Us

64 Canns Road, Bedfordale WA 6112