BE MINDFUL. BE COMPASSIONATE. BE HAPPY.
MISSION BE is a non-profit organization that teaches mindfulness in schools. Their students learn how to de-stress, focus and regulate their emotions. The results are reflected in improved test scores, less bullying and a happier school community.
Their programs include 8-week mindfulness implementation curricula in both the elementary and high school levels. The high school curriculum integrates mindful technology into several of their relevant sub-topics such as Mindfulness and the Brain, Mindful Choices and Mindful and Unmindful Behavior.
One topic “Be Present” recently included the inclusion of technology.
Some examples of the way mindful media practices are integrated start with some initial questions about the student’s own awareness and mindfulness about their technology use. In parentheses I’ve included some of the terms and consequences of these behaviors with technology. Some of these include:
- Do you experience angst and panic when you can’t find your phone? (This could be Nomophobia)
- Do you fee physical anxiety when you haven’t checked your phone in awhile? (This could be due to dopamine decrease)
- Do you use it right before you go to sleep and/or check it in the middle of the night? (Compromised sleep/Sleep deprivation)
- How often do you check your phone during the day? (Some teens check it up to 150 times)
- How many different windows and APPS do you open in an hour while doing homework? (Myth of Multi-Tasking)
- How often do you leave one task for another? How long does it take you to come back to original task? (Rapid Task Switching)
Students are then given a variety of statistics about teen technology use that helps them compare their own behaviors to the norm. It is up to them, then, to determine if they feel they have a problem and if they’d like to change the behavior.
A couple of key strategies to begin with include tech breaks, screen-free zones, and putting the phone in another room at bedtime.
TECH BREAKS are a specified amount of time when you will not use your phone. Many classrooms have the students put their phones upside down on their desks for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. At the designated time, students may take a tech break and check their phones. Students may also practice this when they are studying, when they with friends (who agree to do the same thing) and family dinners at home or at a restaurant.
SCREEN FREE ZONES are areas in the house or school where there are no screens available. This allows students time without digital stimulation which calms the brain. It is a time to practice either mindfulness or emptiness. Much research shows that the quiet brain actually has more brain activity than the stimulated brain. This is a time for synthesis, creativity and original thought.
NO PHONE IN BEDROOM allows for a much more productive and restful sleep. The light emitted from screens before bed disrupts sleep patterns. The temptation to use the phone right before going to sleep stimulates rather than calms the brain, and the temptation to pick up a phone in the middle of the night further disrupts the sleep. If one looks at the phone in the middle of the night, they may find themselves on social media sites, answering texts, or watching YouTubes which can become addictive night after night.
These are just some of the areas that technology can be integrated into any mindfulness curriculum, and it is also very relevant to their lives. Through these applications students will have more access to other mindfulness practices.
I hope more schools will adopt MISSION BE’s curriculum and philosophy for it is one to be replicated!