How does teaching mindfulness affect the brain of a child?

Posted on August 11 2016

Our brain is in charge of everything we do. Its many parts work together to cause us to think and feel, to move the way we move, and do the things we do. Mindfulness practice can literally change the way the brain works. Here’s how: When we are anxious, overly excited, or in a very stressful situation, a bundle of neurons located in the center of the brain, called the amygdala (uh-MIG-duh-luh), sends messages to other parts of the brain. These messages help prepare the body to fight, flee, or freeze in response to threatening situations. When we are in this highly stressed state, our brains are very narrowly focused on reacting to whatever threat we perceive. We have a much harder time seeing the big picture, or making wise choices. Practicing mindful activities, such as breath work, recognizing and labeling our emotions, and connecting with ourselves, has been shown to shrink the amygdala, which in turn allows us to stay calmer and more able to send signals to the prefrontal cortex, the area of brain that makes rational decision- making and problem-solving possible. Mindfulness helps us to recognize that split-second between when something happens to us and when we respond to it, so that we can choose to act in wiser ways.

~Excerpt from the Beginner’s Mind Mindfulness Teaching Toolkit teaching manual.

The Beginner's Mind Mindfulness Teaching Toolkit is a mindfulness curriculum for elementary children.

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