Social and emotional skills play a fundamental role in the attainment of academic goals. These skills include learning to channel attention to productive tasks, to sustain motivation when work becomes demanding, and to handle the frustrations of sharing and learning within a peer group. All of these skills depend upon the ability to understand and manage emotions. Many highly beneficial education-based programs exist that teach the “what’s” and the “why’s” of social and emotional learning. An experiential program like Learning to BREATHE can help teach the “how” in real time. Learning to attend to one’s present moment experience, called mindfulness, offers students a tool to manage emotions as they are perceived and potentially increase in magnitude. While clearly both are important, there is a difference between knowing about emotions and knowing one’s own emotions as they are experienced. In addition to learning about emotions, there is a distinct advantage in learning how to notice what’s happening in the present moment. Attending to and identifying emotions can mitigate the emotional response and increase emotional balance and clarity.
Mindfulness practice offers the opportunity to develop hardiness in the face of uncomfortable feelings that otherwise might provoke a response that could be harmful (e.g. “acting out” by taking drugs, displaying violent behavior or “acting in” by becoming more depressed). Mindfulness training can complement and strengthen other approaches that promote emotion regulation, reduce stress, and develop attention.
Read the Mind/Shift Blog for more information.