Advertisement

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 2564–2578 | Cite as

Creating Novel School-Based Education Programs to Cultivate Mindfulness in Youth: What The Letters Told Us

  • Julianne CheekEmail author
  • Elizabeth M. Abrams
  • David L. LipschitzEmail author
  • David R. Vago
  • Yoshio NakamuraEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

In contemporary education, there is increasing interest in the potential of mindfulness-based training to improve mental health, behavior, and school performance, as part of fostering contemplative pedagogy that can positively impact the lives of young children. However, practice-based knowledge is lacking about how to implement mindfulness-based training effectively at schools. Thus, the key question motivating our study was how we can create school-based educational programs that cultivate mindfulness in young people. The study, a retrospective, qualitative analysis of 188 letters written by 112 elementary students who participated in a classroom-based mindfulness-based training curriculum in the mid-1990s, provided an unique opportunity for gaining important insights into ways in which the students viewed the mindfulness-based training curriculum, themselves, and each other when undertaking that training. Applying the principles of qualitative analysis, each letter was coded, and codes were constantly compared, and from this five thematic categories emerged about central aspects of the process and implementation of that mindfulness-based training. They were: (1) Importance of a sense of place; (2) We are more of a community; (3) Actively taking it on; (4) How I relate to others; and (5) Getting in touch with the inner self. A key finding is that the mindfulness-based training program was a sustained process facilitating the cultivation of a range of students’ skillsets, and not simply reduced to attentional techniques acquired in a finite time slot in an otherwise unchanging classroom. This finding has important implications for the way mindfulness-based training is conceptualized and implemented in contemporary school settings.

Keywords

Mindfulness training Contemplative education Qualitative research Students Implementation programs 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are most grateful to 1440 Foundation, Mindfulness Connections, and HopeLabs, for their financial support of this study.

Author Contributions

J.C.: designed and executed the study, conducted the data analyses, and wrote the paper. E.M.A.: conducted the data analyses, and assisted with the writing of the paper. D.L.L.: designed the study, assisted with the execution of the study and the writing of the paper. D.R.V.: obtained the funding for the study, collaborated with the design of the study, and assisted with editing of the paper. Y.N.: obtained the funding for the study, designed the study, and assisted with editing of the paper.

Disclosures

The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders. The funders had no role in the conduct of the study, collection, management, analysis and interpretation of the data, and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

Dedication

This article is dedicated to the memory of Ms. A.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study, formal consent is not required. The interdisciplinary research team consisted of five researchers from various fields, including the social and health sciences, counselling psychology, neuroscience and cognitive science. The University of Utah Institutional Review Board approved all aspects of the study. The principles of confidentiality and anonymity were upheld, including the names of the school, students and teacher, and the exact location of the school.

Supplementary material

10826_2017_761_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary Material 1
10826_2017_761_MOESM2_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary Material 2

References

  1. Andrews-Hanna, J. R., Kaiser, R. H., Turner, A. E., Reineberg, A. E., Godinez, D., & Dimidjian, S., et al. (2013). A penny for your thoughts: Dimensions of self-generated thought content and relationships with individual differences in emotional wellbeing. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 900 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00900.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Baer, R. A. (2009). Self-focused attention and mechanisms of change in mindfulness-based treatment. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 38, 15–20. doi:914059986 [pii] 10.1080/16506070902980703 [doi].CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Biegel, G., & Brown, K.W. (2010). Assessing the efficacy of an adapted in-class mindfulness-based training program for school-age children: A pilot study. White Paper. Available online at: http://www.mindfulschools.org/pdf/Mindful%20Schools%20Pilot%20Study%20Whitepaper.pdf.
  4. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S. L., L., C., Anderson, N. D., & Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.Google Scholar
  5. Bodhi, B. (2011). What does mindfulness really mean? A canonical perspective. Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 12(1), 19–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (1998). Qualitative Research in Education. An introduction to theory and methods (3rd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  7. Bostic, J. Q., Nevarez, M. D., Potter, M. P., Prince, J. B., Benningfield, M. M., & Aguirre, B. A. (2015). Being present at school: Implementing mindfulness in schools. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 24(2), 245–259. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2014.11.010.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowen, G. A. (2009). Document analysis as a qualitative research method. Qualitative Research Journal, 9(2), 27–40. doi: 10.3316/QRJ0902027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822–848.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Burke, C. A. (2010). Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: A preliminary review of current research in an emergent field. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 133–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Cheek, J., Lipschitz, D. L., Abrams, E. M., Vago, D. R., & Nakamura, Y. (2015). Dynamic reflexivity in action: An armchair walkthrough of a qualitatively driven mixed-method and multiple methods study of mindfulness training in schoolchildren. Qualitative Health Research, 25(6), 751–762. doi: 10.1177/1049732315582022.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Covington, S. (2008). Helping women recover: A program for treating substance abuse Facilitator’s guide - Revised Edition for use in the criminal justice system San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  14. Dariotis, J. K., Mirabal-Beltran, R., Cluxton-Keller, F., Gould, L. F., Greenberg, M. T., & Mendelson, T. (2016). A qualitative evaluation of student learning and skills use in a school-based mindfulness and yoga program. Mindfulness, 7(1), 76–89. doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0463-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Davidson, R., Dunne, J., Eccles, J. S., Engle, A., Greenberg, M., & Jennings, P., et al. (2012). Contemplative Practices and Mental Training: Prospects for American Education. Child Development Perspectives, 6(2), 146–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dawes, N. P., & Larson, R. (2011). How youth get engaged: Grounded-theory research on motivational development in organized youth programs. Developmental Psychology, 47(1), 259–269.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Deci, E. L., Nezlek, J., & Sheinman, L. (1981). The characteristics of the rewarder and intrinsic motivation of the rewardee. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40(1), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, M. (1987). The support of autonomy and the control of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(6), 1024–1037.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Denzin, N. K. (1989). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods (3rd ed.), Englewood Cliffs, NJ, USA: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  20. Feldman, G., Hayes, A., Kumar, S., Greeson, J., & Laurenceau, J.-P. (2007). Mindfulness and emotion regulation: The development and initial validation of the cognitive and affective mindfulness scale-revised (CAMS-R). Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 29, 177–190. doi: 10.1007/s10862-006-9035-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Felver, J. C., Celis-de Hoyos, C. E., Tezanos, K., & Singh, N. N. (2016). A systematic review of mindfulness-based interventions for youth in school settings. Mindfulness, 7(1), 34–45. doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0389-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Flavell, J. H. (2000). Development of children’s knowledge about the world. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24, 15–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fresco, D. M., Segal, Z. V., Buis, T., & Kennedy, S. (2007). Relationship of posttreatment decentering and cognitive reactivity to relapse in major depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(3), 447–455. doi:2007-07856-010 [pii] 10.1037/0022-006X.75.3.447 [doi].CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Furrer, C., & Skinner, E. (2003). Sense of relatedness as a factor n children’s academic engagement and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(1), 148–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., & Sharma, R., et al. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357–368.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., O’Brien, M. U., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L., & Resnik, H., et al. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, 58(6–7), 466–474.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1981). Effective evaluation (1st ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  28. Gunaratana, B. H. (2002). Mindfulness in plain English. Boston: Wisdom Publications.Google Scholar
  29. Holzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 537–559.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Hooker, K. E., & Fodor, I. E. (2008). Teaching mindfulness to children. Gestalt Review, 12, 75–91.Google Scholar
  31. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1982). An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results. General Hospital Psychiatry, 4(1), 33–47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation. London: Piatkus.Google Scholar
  33. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1995). Wherever You Go There You Are. New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  34. Kabat-Zinn, M., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (1997). Everyday blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting. New York, NY: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  35. Lawlor, M. S. (2014). Mindfulness in practice: Considerations for implementation of mindfulness-based programming for adolescents in school contexts. New Directions for Youth Development, 2014(142), 83–95. doi: 10.1002/yd.20098.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Making Sense of Place. (2014). Inc. http://www.makingsenseofplace.com/about-place.htm. Accessed 24 Dec 2014.
  37. McMahon, S. D., & Wernsman, J. (2009). The relation of classroom environment and school belonging to academic self-efficacy among urban fourth- and fifth-grade students. The Elementary School Journal, 109(3), 267–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1968). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 6–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Merriam, B. S. (2009). Qualitative research. A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  40. Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative Research. A Guide to Design and Implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  41. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  42. Miller, J. B. (1976). Toward a new psychology of women. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  43. Monshat, K., Khong, B., Hassed, C., Vella-Brodrick, D., Norrish, J., & Burns, J., et al. (2013). “A conscious control over life and my emotions:” Mindfulness practice and healthy young people. A qualitative study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(5), 572–577. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.09.008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Neff, K. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101. doi: 10.1080/15298860309032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Noddings, N. (2005). What does it mean to Educate the WHOLE child? Educational Leadership, 63(1), 8–13.Google Scholar
  46. Ospina, M. B., Bond, K., Karkhaneh, M., Tjosvold, L., Vandermeer, B., & Liang, Y., et al. (2007). Meditation practices for health: State of the research. Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments, 155, 1–263.Google Scholar
  47. Osterman, K. F. (2000). Students’ need for belonging in the school community. Review of educational research, 70(3), 323–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pagani, L. S., Fitzpatrick, C., & Parent, S. (2012). Relating kindergarten attention to subsequent developmental pathways of classroom engagement in elementary school. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40, 715–725.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Google Scholar
  50. Piaget, J., & Cook, M. T. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York, NY: International Universities Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rempel, K. (2012). Mindfulness for children and youth: A review of the literature with an argument for school-based implementation. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 46(3), 201–220.Google Scholar
  52. Roeser, R. W., & Peck, S. C. (2009). An education in awareness: Self, motivation, and self-regulated learning in contemplative perspective. Educational Psychologist, 44(2), 119–136.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  53. Roeser, R. W., Vago, D. R., Pinela, C., Morris, L. S., Taylor, C., & Harrison, J. (2014). Contemplative education: Cultivating positive mental skills and social-emotional dispositions through mindfulness training. In L. Nucci, T. Krettenauer, & D. Narvaez (Eds.), Handbook of Moral and Character Education (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  54. Roseth, C. J., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2008). Promoting early adolescents’ achievement and peer relationships: The effects of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures. Psychological Bulletin, 134(2), 223–246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Vago, D. R. (2014). Mapping modalities of self-awareness in mindfulness practice: A potential mechanism for clarifying habits of mind. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1307, 28–42. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12270.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Vago, D. R., & Silbersweig, D. A. (2012). Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): A framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 296 doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00296.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Wallace, D. L., & Ewald, H. R. (2000). Mutuality in the rhetoric and composition classroom. Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Zelazo, D., & Lyons, K. E. (2012). The potential benefits of mindfulness training in early childhood: A developmental social cognitive neuroscience perspective. Child Development Perspectives, 6(2), 154–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business, Languages and Social SciencesØstfold University CollegeRemmenNorway
  2. 2.Counseling DepartmentSaint Mary’s College of CaliforniaMoragaUSA
  3. 3.Pain Research Center, Department of AnesthesiologySchool of Medicine, University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral SciencesVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations