Mindful Learning Theory & Practice

Mindfulness Exercises

Mindful Learning provides mindfulness techniques and practical exercises, making it easier to implement and improve your practice of mindfulness in educational settings.

Practising the techniques provided in Mindful Learning will help you:

  • Manage and reduce stress
  • Improve memory
  • Increase focus
  • Create better relationships through better communication

All of these mindfulness training techniques are vital to success in a learning environment.

Importantly, this book is not just about the theory of mindfulness, it is about the practice and experience of it.

Theory without experience is like surface learning without real understanding. To that end, there are a number of practical mindfulness exercises or experiments provided in Chapter 20.

These are as much for the benefit of the one who seeks to learn mindfulness as well as for the one who wishes to teach it in the classroom or at home. They can be used as scripts or, even better, once you become familiar with them you can guide these exercises in your own words. References throughout the book will direct you to the relevant exercise.

Below is a free excerpt of a mindfulness exercise from Mindful Learning.

Exercise 6a: Mindful walking

This practice brings mindfulness to movement, which is important for two main reasons. First, it emphasises the fact that mindfulness is about being aware and awake in each moment, rather than being specifically about sitting meditation. Second, we spend much of the day walking and moving about, and so learning to do this mindfully is a way of bringing mindfulness more fully into our daily life.

Script

‘Stand relaxed with your eyes closed or half closed. Make sure that you can walk in a small circle or for a few metres straight in front of you, and ensure there are no obstacles in your path.

Tune in to your body. Notice how it feels to stand. Feel the weight distribution on your feet. Notice which muscles are involved in holding you up. Let go of tension in any other muscles. Observe where the breath naturally fills the body on the inhalation. Let go of any tension in the chest or abdomen so that your body breathes unimpeded. Really feel what it is like to stand, relaxed and alert.

Very slowly and deliberately, take a step. Really tune in to the movement, feeling as much as you can about it. Feel the weight transfer onto the other leg and foot. Feel your momentum move you forward. Feel the weight come out of the leg and the heel begin to lift up. Then the ball of the foot as it breaks contact with the ground.

Then feel your body balance automatically as your leg and foot travel through the air. Then feel your heel make contact with the ground in front of you, and feel the weight transfer back into that leg and foot, and then out of the other one.

At the same time, tune in to the muscles. Feel them activate as they become involved in the movement, and then deactivate as they are no longer required. See if you can become aware of excess muscle activation — or even tension. We often habitually use too much force, and engage muscles that aren’t needed (e.g. notice what is happening right now in your face and your hands).

Keep walking in this way in a circle (or for as many paces straight in front as you can, then turn and walk back in the same mindful way). Stay connected to your breath while doing this. Keep breathing. After some time you might like to speed up the walk, but make sure you remain mindful and don’t snap back into reflexive habits of unconscious walking.

You might like to practise walking to the bus stop like this, or from your desk to the bathroom. Keep reconnecting with the simple act of walking throughout the day. If you are late for your bus or train, experiment with walking fast yet staying relaxed and keeping your attention in your body (rather than imagining the train pulling away as you get to the station, or your teacher’s or boss’ face as you arrive late). Notice how walking like this changes the experience.’

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