Personally, I object to all of this as someone who is “celiac-adjacent” thanks to a skin disease and who didn’t know until recently there was a problem with yoga pants as daywear. (Isn’t it the official uniform of work-at-home moms? Or is that pajamas?) However, I object more –and now openly–to the rising criticism of mindfulness because it’s where my current research into bully prevention and bullying recovery options keep leading me.
Disclosure: as someone who has experienced bullying first hand at various points in my life, I know that mindfulness training (through a group meditation class during a stint in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the HeartMath Institute‘s series of books) was vital to my releasing decades-old childhood trauma.
Science, too, is demonstrating the power of mindfulness to change the brain in dynamic, positive ways. Science also tells us that bullying leaves some nasty marks on the body and the brain of victims.
Then there’s news like this, regarding an upstart non-profit called Inner Explorer, which teaches school kids “mindfulness-based social emotional learning practices” in order to reduce negative outcomes from negative social encounters and enhance overall well being:
Early results of a randomized controlled trial of kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms that implemented Inner Explorer’s mindfulness programs showed an estimated 50 percent reduction in reactive behavior and bullying incidents during the 2012–2013 school year. Quarterly grade point averages (GPAs) improved by 7–15 percent. Currently, there are 111 preschool and elementary classrooms in 12 schools in California, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York taking part in the program. [Read More]
Those are some exciting early results. Having read quite a bit about “anti-bully efforts,” I think Inner Explorer is the approach that we should all be tilting our communities toward–and away from educational programs that appear to shame bullies in a way that only models the negative interactions we’re trying to stop.
As you’ll see in this video, the program engages students and teachers in the process of self-reflection, self-calming, and community building through a shared experience centered on peaceful, meaningful connection that leads to optimal experiences of life (a.k.a. “flow“). In my experience, mindfulness and meditation can be powerful medicine for any
child human being, but especially the most vulnerable among us–provided that sensory needs requiring special consideration are addressed adequately by the adult leaders. (Honestly, I do better with a moving meditation, as I learned in that Louisiana meditation class.)
To sum up, Inner Explorer is poised to demonstrate that, rather than being some sort of hippie-chick, flash-in-the-pan approach to addressing bullying, mindfulness training has a place in our homes and schools for all the myriad benefits it can provide children, including bullying prevention and improved interpersonal conflict resolution. Plus, it provides gifted kids in particular a valuable means of tuning into their bodies in a culture that emphasizes their brain potential.
And that, frankly, is some of the best news that I’ve encountered since I began the research for my second book.
Pamela Price is an author and accidental homeschool parent with a special interest in the “gifted lifetime.” Her next book, on the topic of bullying and its impact on gifted/twice-exceptional kids, is due later this year from GHF Press. You can find and follow her on: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
• Why Do Bullies Bully? (Article on Inner Explorer from Mindfulness magazine)
• A working list of books on bullying that I’ve found useful in my book research can be found on my Facebook page.
* This example does make a good point: mindfulness may be best pursued in companion with other modalities. It can also be a way of determining if one needs deeper assistance, including cognitive behavior therapy or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT is heavily tied to mindfulness).