PUBLISHED: MAR 14, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT
Every day at Westwood Primary, pupils take part in a short ‘mindful breathing’ routine after recess to help them regulate their emotions and get in the right state of mind before the next class.
It was five minutes before the end of recess at Westwood Primary School on Thursday. A hush descended over the canteen as pupils seated on benches began a “mindful breathing” session.
“Sit quietly, close your eyes… Keep breathing in and out, slowly,” said a woman’s voice on the speaker system, guiding them through the two-minute exercise. Some children were fidgety, their eyes darting around as they tried to grab the attention of their friends. Others, however, took the activity more seriously, closing their eyes and sitting up straight while being aware of their thoughts, and then letting go of them.
Primary 4 pupil Solomon Lim, 10, was a picture of calm. He later told The Straits Times: “It helps me when I’m stressed. I take deep breaths and cool down.” Following a trial last year, Westwood Primary has since January introduced “mindful breathing” sessions at the end of recess daily for all pupils as part of a broader “positive education” framework.
Mindfulness is a state of being aware of one’s thoughts, sensations and surroundings in the present, and accepting them without judging them. Mindfulness, which can be achieved by taking deep breaths and focusing on them, has been known to calm people down and reduce stress in their daily lives.
Ms Sophia Tan, the teacher in charge at Westwood, said this was to help pupils re-focus before returning to lessons. “Mindfulness helps children regulate their emotions and thoughts. As it becomes a routine and habit, they can use it in other aspects of their lives,” she said.
Mindfulness, which can be achieved by taking deep breaths and focusing on them, has been known to calm people down and reduce stress in their daily lives.
Over the past two years, more than 10 primary and secondary schools here have introduced mindfulness practices, something which has already caught on in schools in countries such as Britain.
Recent studies suggest that mindfulness can have a positive effect on the mental, emotional, social and physical health of young people.
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A study examining the effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme in several British secondary schools showed that the more often students used mindfulness practices, the higher their levels of well-being. Students involved in it also reported significantly less stress and fewer depressive symptoms than those not involved. The findings were published in The British Journal Of Psychiatry in 2013.