Mindfulness is a popular new trend in human potential, with interest growing exponentially since 2000. One key area where mindfulness is gaining traction is in learning for adults and children.
Mindfulness has been implemented to enhance adult learning at Oxford and Harvard Universities. A study from Oxford found mindfulness meditation exercises can reduce relapses into depression by 44% with some researchers even arguing it is as effective as taking antidepressants.
Many Australian universities including Monash University in Melbourne, are advocates for mindfulness. Monash has been using mindfulness with medical students since 1989, and mindfulness is found now in a wide range of faculties including Business, IT, Engineering, Law, Psychology and Sport.
An overview of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is defined by Mindful.org as ‘the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are, what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.’
Advocates of mindfulness suggest that it is a quality that humans already possess, and it just requires some attention. Rather than asking for change, mindfulness recognises and cultivates the best of who we are already. Being curious about the workings of our mind can lead to less self-judgement and cultivate kindness – to self and others.
Proven Mindfulness Techniques are:
- Meditation – seated, standing, walking or moving
- Reflective pauses taken at different times each day
- Gratitude practice
- Active listening
- Yoga, Tai Chi and other focused movements
Why Practice Mindfulness in Adult Learning?
The direct benefits of mindfulness in adult learning are better sleep, sharpened focus, increased memory, insightfulness, self-acceptance and overall enhanced learning performance. Taking time out for mindfulness practices gives your eyes a break from the screen and your body a chance to loosen up stiff shoulders, neck and back.
Reduce Physical and Mental Stress
A regular mindful awareness practice can change how our body and brain respond to stress. There is evidence that it can strengthen connections in the prefrontal cortex and reduce reactivity in our limbic system, supporting self-reflection and self-regulation. These functions play a critical role in education. The prefrontal cortex must be engaged to focus and correct attention, and to also manage impulsive tendencies that can lead to distraction.
Ways Mindfulness can Assist Stress:
- Reduce wear and tear on the body
- Enhance the immune system
- Reduce excessive inflammation in the body
- Relieve cardiovascular stress
- Switch down cortisol and bone damage
Increase Memory and Brain Health
Neuroscientists have found in studies that meditation causes changes in the brain regions concerned with memory consolidation, meta-awareness, and self / emotion regulation. There are grounds for believing that meditation interventions can also offset age-related cognitive decline. Since the adult brain is ‘elastic’ and continues to change throughout an adult’s life, any exercises that keep the brain young are useful for learning.
Enhance Confidence and Self-esteem in Learners
Mindfulness can have positive flow on effects to many interpersonal aspects of life. Many adults can experience anxiety about returning to study, and if they are doing an online course, they can feel unsure about studying alone.
Comparing self with others and being overly self-critical are states that mindfulness can assist by bringing a reflective and calm perspective. Balancing study with work and home, can be challenging and a simple breathing exercise will sooth those moments where you might feel overwhelmed.
Even after you graduate, and it is time to ask for a promotion or attend interviews, using mindfulness techniques will keep you calm, confident and charming.
CAL’s coaches pick for Mindfulness Apps
There are hundreds of mindfulness apps available. Start with a free download and find one you like before purchasing. Five trending apps that we like are:
- Smiling Mind (Australian)
- Insight Timer
Tune into these Mindfulness Podcasts
We like these podcasts for content related to learning and thriving as an adult in everyday life:
- Mindfulness Mode by Bruce Langford
- 10% Happier with Dan Harris
- Meditation Minis with Chel Hamilton
- The Self Help Podcast
- UCLA Meditation at the Hammer
Mindfulness has many practical applications for adult learning online. Adopt a few practices to enhance your learning today.