Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to your inner experience. For example, a mindful approach to one’s inner experience is simply viewing “thoughts as thoughts” as opposed to evaluating certain thoughts as positive or negative.
A new study published in the September 2010 issue of The Journal of Positive Psychology reports that teaching mindfulness to adolescent boys improves their “well-being,” or feeling of happiness, contentment, interest, and affection. The research was done in the United Kingdom. 155 boys from two independent UK schools, Tonbridge and Hampton, were evaluated before and after a four-week crash course in mindfulness. After the trial period, the 14 and 15 year-old boys were found to have increased well-being.
Many of the students genuinely enjoyed the exercises and said they intended to continue them — a good sign that many children would be receptive to this type of intervention.
“Another significant aspect of this study is that adolescents who suffered from higher levels of anxiety were the ones who benefitted most from the training.”
For the experiment, students in six classes were trained in mindful awareness — mindfulness. Mindfulness is a "way of paying attention. It means consciously bringing awareness to our experience, in the present moment, without making judgements about it." Students in the five control classes attended their normal religious studies lessons.
The training consisted of four 40 minute classes, one per week, which presented the principles and practice of mindfulness. The classes covered the concepts of awareness and acceptance, and taught the schoolboys such things as how to practice bodily awareness by noticing where they were in contact with their chairs or the floor, paying attention to their breathing, and noticing all the sensations involved in walking.
All participants completed a short series of online questionnaires before and after the mindfulness project. The questionnaires measured the effect of the training on changes in mindful awareness, resilience (the ability to modify responses to changing situations) and psychological well-being.
Many of the participants reported they enjoyed the exercise, and continued to practice mindfulness after the study.