mindThe bulk of the existing research on mindfulness for children has been conducted in relation to children in schools. Recent studies have shown school mindfulness programs to be a helpful and versatile tool in reducing some of the associated signs and symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety among High School students for significant periods after programme completion. Structured  programmes teaching mindfuness in schools can also help students focus during exams, as well as reducing overall stress and promoting happiness amongst students.

Brown University in the US published research in February 2013 showing that those who practice mindfulness are able to gain greater control over sensory cortical alpha rhythms, which regulate the brain’s processing and filtering of emotions, including pain and depressive memories. Brown University research into mindfulness

Research conducted by Sonia Sequeira, Ph.D., a clinical researcher specialized in Investigational Therapies and director of the Institute for Meditation Sciences and published in the journal Autism Research and Treatment, suggests that meditation has a great deal of potential as a treatment option for children with autism. Meditation as potential treatment for autism: a review

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies showed the efficacy of an eight-week mindfulness program for children ages 8-12 with ADHD, run in conjunction with with a mindful parenting program for their parents. Researchers found that the program reduced ADHD-type behavior, as reported by parents.

Researchers at the University of Leuven looked at the experiences of 408 students (between the ages of 13 and 20) from five different schools in Flanders, Belgium.Finding showed marked improvements in coping with and experiencing stress. Huffington Post reviewof that research here.

Studies have shown that youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being. Such benefits can lead to long-term improvements in life: social skills in kindergarten predict improved education, employment, crime, substance abuse and mental health outcomes in adulthood (Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early Social-­Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.)

A 2015 study found that fourth- and fifth-grade students who participated in a four-month meditation program showed improvements in executive functions like cognitive control, working memory, cognitive flexibility — and better math grades.

(Enhancing Cognitive and Social–Emotional Development Through a Simple-to-Administer Mindfulness-Based School Program for Elementary School Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial – Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, Eva Oberle, Molly Stewart Lawlor, David Abbott, Kimberly Thomson, Tim F. Oberlander, and Adele Diamond

Mindfulness has been shown specifically to reduce test-anxiety: Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99–125.

Mindfulness in schools has been sown to reduce overall levels of stress: Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M. T., Dariotis, J. K., Gould, L. F., Rhoades, B. L., & Leaf, P. J. (2010). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness intervention for urban youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(7), 985–994.

study of elementary school children in Korea showed that eight weeks of meditation lowered aggression, social anxiety and stress levels. This study analyzed the effects of a school-based mind subtraction meditation program on depression, social anxiety, aggression, and salivary cortisol levels of 42 elementary school children in South Korea. The research design was a nonequivalent group comparison with pretest and post-test. The experimental group was given 8weeks of the meditation program. The results showed social anxiety, aggression, and salivary cortisol levels were significantly lowered in the experimental group. This demonstrated that the school-based mind subtraction meditation program could be effective in improving psychosocial and behavioral aspects of mental health in elementary school children. (The Effects of Mind Subtraction Meditation on Depression, Social Anxiety, Aggression, and Salivary Cortisol Levels of Elementary School Children in South Korea. Yoo YG, Lee DJ, Lee IS, Shin N, Park JY, Yoon MR, Yu B)

Similarly, symptoms of post-traumatic stress in children have been relieved: Sibinga, E. M. S., Webb, L., Ghazarian, S. R., & Ellen, J. M. (2016). School-­Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT. Pediatrics, 137(1), 1-­8, along with those of depression: Raes, F., Griffith, J. W., Van der Gucht, K., & Williams, J. M. G. (2014). School-­based prevention and reduction of depression in adolescents: A cluster-­randomized controlled trial of a mindfulness group program.Mindfulness, 5(5), 477–486.

Mindfulness has also proven results in improving children’s abilities to pay attention and focus: Baijal, S., Jha, A. P., Kiyonaga, A., Singh, R., & Srinivasan, N. (2011). The influence of concentrative meditation training on the development of attention networks during early adolescence. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 1-9., as well as improving academic grades: Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66

Behaviour, too, responds to mindfulness practice in schools: Barnes, V. A., Bauza, L. B., & Treiber, F. A. (2003). Impact of stress reduction on negative school behavior in adolescents. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 1(10), 1–7.

A paper reviews research and curricula pertaining to the integration of mindfulness training into K-12 education, both indirectly by training teachers and through direct teaching of students.  Click here. IMEK-12-ARTICLE-IN-JOURNAL-MINDFULNESS-ONLINE-VERSION-1

Overcoming Anxiety: The Remarkable (and Proven) Power of Mindfulness – How, Why, What – Article from Hey Sigmund author Karen Young (Karen has worked as a psychologist in private practice, in organisational settings, lectured and has extensive experience in the facilitation of personal growth groups. She holds an Honours degree in Psychology and Masters in Gestalt Therapy)

Our brain has a natural mode of functioning called the default mode network. For those interested, you might read a recent research study on how mindfulness might impact this brain network, from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It’s a powerful tool and has helped us to survice and thrive. It’s a very good thing that we are so able to simulate the future, reflect on the past, and solve problems. We are not aiming to get rid of that – but it’s exhausting to be in the problem-solving mode all the time. Sometimes, it’s important simply to Be. Present. Now.

Harvard scientists were some of the first to uncover the impact of meditation on health. They found that mindfulness can change your brain in positive ways. At this seminar, a panel of Harvard Medical School faculty discuss the neu­roscience of meditation and mindfulness. Now and Zen

Breathworks Executive Summary: Living Well Programmes – Mindfulness Approaches to Health and Wellbeing – download report here.Breathworks_Exec_Summary_Aug_2010

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that teens who went through a four-week program where they learned about maintaining healthy bodies, minds and lifestyles — as well as yoga-based breathing techniques — had better impulse control than teens who didn’t go through the program. The program, called “YES! for Schools,” was developed by the nonprofit International Association for Human Values.

Researchers from George Mason University and the University of Illinois conducted their study on college students in a psychology class. Some of the students were shown how to meditate before listening to a lecture, while others didn’t meditate before the lecture. Then, after the lecture, they all took a quiz — and those who meditated did better on the quiz than those who didn’t.

Two research projects from the University of Exeter in the UK: Beshai, S., McAlpine, L., Weare, K., & Kuyken, W. (2015). A Non-Randomised Feasibility Trial Assessing the Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Teachers to Reduce Stress and Improve Well-Being. Mindfulness, 1-11. Evans, A., Crane, R., Cooper, L,. Mardula, J., Wilks, J., Surawy, C., Kenny, M., Kuyken, W., (2014) A Framework for Supervision For Mindfulness Based Teachers

Here is some more general Recommended Reading:


Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. Ney York: Hyperion.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Dell.

Applications to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 125-143. (Note: This article is followed by a series of other articles about the use of mindfulness in psychotherapy.)

Hayes, S. C., Jacobson, N. S., Follette, V. M. & Dougher, V. M. (Eds.) (1994). Acceptance and change: Content and context in psychotherapy. Reno, NV: Context Press.

Linehan, M.M. (1993 a). Cognitive behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York, Guilford.

Linehan, M.M. (1993 b). Skill training manual for treating borderline personality disorder. New York, Guilford.

Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. New York: Guilford.

Mindfulness from a Spiritual Perspective:

Merton, T. & Hanh, T. N. Contemplative Prayer. (Christian)

Barks, C. & Rumi, M. a. Delicious laughter: Rambunctious teaching stories from the Mathnawi of jelaluddin Rumi. (Islam)

Suzuki, S. Zen mind, Beginner’s mind. (Buddhist)

Huyler, S. P., et al. Meeting God: Elements of Hindu devotion. (Hindu)

Kaplan, A. Meditation and Kabbalah. (Judaism)

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