May 30, 2015
How to Introduce Mindfulness
DM Public Workshop at OISE
We had a great workshop on how to introduce mindfulness at your school on Saturday, May 30 at OISE. Our five expert panelists discussed the issue facing teachers who are trying to introduce mindfulness to their schools.
Ronit Jinich, Advisor, Educational Programs and Senior Facilitator at Mindfulness Without Borders and on the faculty at the Applied Mindfulness Meditation Certificate Program at U of T’s Factor Iwentash School of Social Science led off with the observation, drawn from many years of teaching mindfulness to students, that children have an unerring sense of authenticity. It is essential to teach from your own experience: start where you are and teach what you know. She went on to remind the audience that patience could well be the most important quality, both in developing a practice and in spreading mindfulness to others.
Elli Weisbaum, co-founder of Partners in Mindfulness and also on the faculty at the Applied Mindfulness Meditation Certificate Program at U of T’s Factor Iwentash School of Social Science was in total agreement on the starting point for any discussion of mindfulness. She urged teachers to share their own experiences with their fellow teachers and administrators when trying to introduce a program at their schools rather than relying solely on research and scientific evidence. She urged listeners to not underestimate the experiential power of mindfulness. It is never wasting time to spend part of a presentation in a short meditation: in fact that is often the most effective fashion to demonstrate the tremendous impact mindfulness can have.
Karen Davis from Mindfulness Everyday and a former Vice-Principal who introduced MindUp to her school and school board, spoke from personal experience when she pointed out that an outsider may well have an easier time introducing a new program than someone already on staff. She recommended being precise and selective when advocating for a mindfulness program. Don’t overload the audience but it is useful to discuss the specific benefits practice can provide such as helping students with ADD, mental health issues, self-regulation and anxiety.
Marjorie James, a school social worker at the TDSB and trainer in Learning to Breathe, a mindfulness program for middle and high school students, said because of the enormous upsurge in interest in mindfulness, it may not be necessary to sell the idea to your school. Instead when launching a program, teachers should focus on building widespread support to ensure the program will succeed. Before establishing a mindfulness program, it is vital to ask how will it carry on when the teachers who launch it are no longer at the school? Is there enough teacher buy-in and institutional support?
Heidi Bornstein has been working to bring mindfulness to high schools for five years now, including her own Mindful Edge program and the smartEducation program for teachers. What those years have proved is the necessity of targeting training at the teachers. While Boards are more excited about programs that target the children, asking teachers without a personal practice to teach mindfulness is like expecting someone to teach Spanish from a Spanish phrasebook. Teachers must develop their own practice first. Only then will they be able to decide how to bring it into their classroom. The key is to show teachers how mindfulness can be useful for them both personally and professionally and to help them develop and sustain their own practice.
The discussion following the panel’s presentation was lively and informative and included some inspiring first-hand accounts of the impact of mindfulness on individual students and the classroom at large.
To listen to an audio recording of the panel presentation and discussion: click here
The afternoon also included a presentation of DM’s new Fact Sheets, which are excellent resources you can use to help introduce mindfulness to others at your school, as well as updates on mindfulness in education in Ontario.
October 18, 2014
Meditate – Educate – Celebrate!
It was one year ago, October, 2013, when Discover Mindfulness (DM) was launched with its first public meeting. About 80 people gathered at OISE to form a community, make plans, support each other, and enjoy a workshop on how 3 mindfulness programs were brought to schools in Ontario.
Since then our community has grown to over 450 people, the province has made Well-Being a top priority in education, and mindfulness programs are spreading throughout Ontario and the world.
The Oct 18 meeting included:
- Meditation – instead of the usual few minutes at the start of the meeting, we had a full blown meditation session, featuring 2 guided meditations (body scan and loving kindness) and a “circle of joy” mindful stretch in between.
- Paying attention to inattention – mental health expert Peter Chaban discussed the relationship between attention and school performance. He touched on the cognitive mechanisms and related behaviours associated with attention, based on the Paying Attention to Inattention course he co-teaches at the University of Toronto’s Applied Mindfulness Meditation program.
- Self care – helpful strategies and ways to take care of yourself
- Mindfulness at the York Region DSB
- DM update and feedback
- Celebration of our One Year Anniversary
- Click here to download slides of Paying Attention to Inattention
- Click here to download slides of Self Care, York Region DSB and DM Update
We are working include the recording of the presentations. Right now the file is too big, so we need to convert it somehow.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)
University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street West (map)
(and broadcast Online)
May 3, 2014, OISE, Toronto
WORKSHOP: Doing it Right – Considerations for Bringing Mindfulness to Your School
Thanks to everyone who joined us for the meeting, both at OISE and online. Together about 70 people attended.
This was our last big meeting before summer, and summer is a great time to take some mindfulness training. But before you go ahead, please make sure you’re choosing the right program for your needs, and have a good idea of what’s important to implement it well.
As noted by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness in schools can be profoundly valuable, but if it’s not done in the right way it would be a travesty. We couldn’t agree more. At this early stage of bringing mindfulness to schools, the world is watching. Let’s all do what we can to give the world something to smile about!
The meeting included:
- the impact of Ontario’s new Education Vision, released April 7 – Click here to download
- Doing it Right – Considerations for Bringing Mindfulness to Your School – Click here to download
- Summer mindfulness training – Click here to download
- DM’s organizational vision for the next year – Click here to download
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
March 1, 2014
Experience Student Mindfulness Programs
Thanks to everyone who joined us for meeting. We had about 60 people at OISE and another 15 or so online.
- We had 3 breakout groups featuring elementary, high school and post-secondary mindfulness programs:
- We presented on Ontario’s School-Based Mental Health initiative – This initiative can be the key to bringing mindfulness to your school. People were quite enthusiastic to contact their school board’s mental health leader and talk to them about including mindfulness. Click here for the presentation. More on the Mental Health initiative is on our Resources & Links page.
- DM’s Human Systems Engagement Project (based on Theory U) – As part of her Masters program, April McLellan will use the latest in human systems thinking to help Discover Mindfulness be more effective in engaging volunteers to further our mission. 11 people volunteered to be part of the project team, and to meet at least 3 times over the next 3 months. Click here for the presentation.
- Ontario’s new Education Strategy
- DM submission made November 27, stressing need for cognitive, social and emotional skills. See our Ontario’s new Education Strategy page for the latest info.
- Discover Mindfulness Update
- Over the last few months, DM’s focus has been strategic networking & information gathering, our mapping project (the School Finder now shows 33 schools with mindfulness programs and 16 with champions), our program guide, and building our organizational capacity
- We need committee and project team Chairs. Their role is not to do all the work, but rather to ensure that regular meetings are held and to chair those meetings. Two Chairs came forward – Heidi Bornstein will chair the Program Committee (responsible for our program guide) and Ann Martens will chair the Post-Secondary Committee. We are looking for chairs for the following committees: Outreach, Advocacy (including Mental Health Leaders), Organizational Development, Events, High School, Elementary, Mapping and Communication & Research.
October 26, 2013
How 3 Student Mindfulness Programs were Brought to Schools
On October 26 we had our first event. It was attended by about 80 very enthusiastic people – mostly educators but also many non-educators who want to see mindfulness brought into schools.
- Two meditations, one to help us arrive and settle in, and one after the break to help us envision a world where mindfulness is taught in every grade of every school.
- An overview of Discover Mindfulness (DM) and what it will do, including a demonstration of its School Finder. Click here to download the presentation.
- Presentations describing how 3 different mindfulness programs were brought into schools in Ontario, their successes, challenges and outcomes:
- MindUP at the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (DSB). Click here to download the presentation.
- Mindful Edge and SMART at RH King High School in Scarborough. Click here to download the presentation.
- Mindfulness Without Borders at the Toronto Catholic DSB.
- Breakout groups to brainstorm and give us feedback on:
- how to develop the organization
- our mapping project (School Finder + Champions)
- how to present and research the various mindfulness programs for education
- how to communicate effectively
- advocacy – in particular regarding the Ministry’s of Education’s consultation on its new Education Strategy. This is a wonderful opportunity to ensure Social and Emotional Learning and a holistic view of education are made top priorities. The deadline for submissions is November 15. DM will be making a submission, and we ask that you do too, and that you spread the word. Click here for more info.
- teacher education – in particular bringing mindfulness training into the new 2 year teacher training
- post-secondary education
- high schools
- K-8 schools
- We formed several committees. (If you’re interested in joining one, please contact us)
- Developing the Organization
- Mapping Project
- High Schools
- We raised enough money to build out our website (including refining and expanding our functionality and improving the graphics), create presentations and other materials, and fund online meetings.
Family Mind-FUN-Ness on Family Day
Monday, February 15
Where: The Centre for Mindfulness Studies, 180 Sudbury Street, Toronto
When: Family Day morning, Monday, February 15, 2016, 10 am – 1 pm
Does your family need fun ways to de-stress, re-lax and re-energize this winter? Are you looking for something fun and affordable to do together on Family Day? To fight the winter blues? Do you feel the need to be part of a community of like-minded people who want to integrate mind-body wellness into daily life?
Then Family Mind-Fun-Ness on Family Day may be just the thing for you!
Come join us for a fun adventure into mindfulness, togetherness and sharing.
We will begin with guided meditation for the adults (and kids can join in, or do some colouring),
then we’ll move into fun games, visualization, movement, imagination-adventures and songs designed for the children (parents can join in, or just watch and learn), followed by a discussion and finally we will talk and share at our salad potluck! We would love to have you!
Led by Marni Levitt B.A. (Hons.), OCT, RYT; Arts & Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker; founder of Move-N-Music.
Cost: $10 + bring food item for potluck – all proceeds to Discover Mindfulness
For: parents and kids ages 5 – 12
Email Marni to RSVP: click here
The event will be in the Carmena Room at The Centre for Mindfulness Studies. Click here for directions.