08 MAY 2014

A Moment of Mindfulness

A Moment of Mindfulness

Mindfulness itself is not just of the moment, it's about being in the moment'.

On Wednesday 7 May politicians gathered at Westminster, London, joined by comedian Ruby Wax and paused for a meditative minute. Ruby Wax is a spokesperson of the importance of mindfulness in overcoming mental health problems. According to Robert Booth writing in the Guardian mental health problems are estimated to affect one in four and studies claim mindfulness can affect a ‘20% reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression*’.

Mindfulness is certainly a movement of the moment occurring in Parliament, city offices, front rooms, practitioners’ workshops and offered in advice given by NHS Choices. However these organisations are playing catch up with the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), who have long-recognised the relevance and importance of Mindfulness within the realm of education.

Originating in Buddhist meditation, Mindfulness itself is not just of the moment, it's about being in the moment, where the practitioner focuses on awareness of thoughts, feelings and sensations of the moment, accepting without judgement.

Within the International Baccalaureate’s approach, Mindfulness is addressed through empathy as well as knowledge and the students journey to knowing ‘how they know’. A previous article, ‘Enlightenment through Understanding’**, published in the IBWorld Magazine stated that:

'the term ‘mindedness’ is very important in defining the IB learner’s approach….‘mindedness’ is about having empathy and not just knowledge. It isn’t something that is taught in any particular class; instead it is so embedded in the way an IB student learns that it becomes part of their consciousness'.

The article elaborates that at an international school in Thailand they launched a challenge to ‘build ‘mindfulness’’** in students. Students were asked to set themselves targets to connect them to their community at what the secondary principal, Julian Edwards, described as three levels: ‘global, personal and social (or community)’**.The idea is that being mindful at one level makes mindfulness on other levels more likely.

The Ibo website hosts a number of links to workshops, conferences and articles on mindfulness; it’s important that students understand the global perspective and complete charitable work as part of their course. In Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma by Richard van de Lagemaat for Cambridge University Press, the fundamental question is how do you know? In exploring this question, the author encourages critical thinking across a range of subject areas and helps students to ask relevant questions, use language with care and precision, support ideas with evidence, argue coherently and make sound judgements. The book carries chapters on ‘The Purpose of Knowledge’, ‘The Nature of Knowledge’ and ‘Ways of Knowing’, further exemplifying that we should be mindful about how we learn, and that we should analyse and understand the world around us. Watch out for the new edition of Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma coming soon!

Find out more about Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma

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* Guardian, ‘Politicians joined by Ruby Wax as parliament pauses for meditation’, Robert Booth, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/07/politicians-ruby-wax-parliament-mindfulness-meditation

**IB World Magazine, ‘Enlightenment through Understanding’, http://www.ibo.org/ibworld/jan2008/enlightenment.cfm*

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