PSA: Bring Mindfulness Practice Into Schools and Workplaces!

“70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence. Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.” — Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Statistic after statistic shows the truth: The situations we are exposed to as youngsters and how we react to them can be detrimental in the long-term if not treated right. It could be from being brought up in a corrupted home environment, bullying at school, feeling isolated from socialization, or even enduring any kind of abuse. The feelings we take away from these experiences; feelings of anxiety, hate, and self-consciousness, tend to resonate with us in some extent deep down as we grow older.

And then we grow older. And we face the sleepless nights caused by procrastination. We go through our first relationships and breakups. We have to figure out what we want to do for the next ~50 years for a living — and fast. Our adolescence and young adulthood are some of the most confusing years of our lives, often leaving us feeling helpless and lost without a sense of purpose.

Since I have been trying to get more into digital marketing and strategy, I recently started helping man the Twitter presence and build brand for The Mindful Word— an online journal and collective of individuals committed to creating a culture of engaged living. Before this, I was aware of the practice of meditation as being one in the same as yoga. It is so much more. It is all about finding balance in your life through paying attention and being present in the moment — being able to resist your drifting mind throughout your day. It could be found in listening to someone actively, or observing the way people interact on the subway, or noticing the gentle swaying of the tree leaves above your head on a spring morning. Basking in the present, allowing yourself to become a tourist in your life regularly by really listening and seeing, can help you negate feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress.

In a study shown in TIME outlining the effects behind implementing a mindfulness program versus the standard social responsibility program into a public BC school for a few months, here are some of the interesting facts mentioned:

“In the mindfulness classrooms, the program incorporated sense-sharpening exercises like mindful smelling and mindful eating, along with cognitive mindfulness exercises like seeing an issue from another’s point of view. Children did a three-minute meditation three times a day focusing on their breathing. They also acted on their lessons by practicing gratitude and doing kind things for others. For the four months, researchers analyzed all kinds of in-depth measures, like behavioral assessments, cortisol levels, children’s self-reports of their own wellbeing, reviews from their peers about sociability and the objective academic scores of math grades […]
Compared to the kids in the social responsibility program, children with the mindful intervention had 15% better math scores, showed 24% more social behaviors, were 24% less aggressive and perceived themselves as 20% more pro-social. They outperformed their peers in cognitive control, stress levels, emotional control, optimism, empathy, mindfulness and aggression.”

By bringing in teachers specialized in leading guided meditation, child development during these critical years will reach new peaks. Integrating mindfulness programs in work and schools, two of the most stressful environments, will foster a far more productive and open community to learn and grow. If you are looking to boost employee engagement and morale, this is it.

Check out this program brought in by MiSP (the Mindfulness in Schools Project) for more insight into the need for this inclusion in the future. If we can raise the next generations with the right values for the sake of humanity through this program… just imagine how low the crime and aggression rates would become. That is the kind of world our children deserve.