A School of Mindfulness

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Philipp Graf von Hardenberg President & Executive Chairman of Thanyapura World Pte. Ltd. Co-Founder of United World College Thailand (UWCT) Founder of the Yaowawit School, Thailand

Preparing young minds for happy lives – for me, the number one task of our education systems – can and should go beyond teaching facts and figures. One way to do it is by incorporating the concepts of mindfulness into teaching programs. To that goal, a new student-centric Mindfulness Centre was recently launched at the UWC Thailand (UWCT) in Phuket.

Phuket is no stranger to mindfulness practice, and not just at yoga studios and meditation classes. Take the UWCT for example, where Social and Emotional Learning and Mindfulness have been priorities since the school was founded back in 2008. The welfare homestay school Yaowawit in Kapong provides another instance of using mindfulness in education, with daily meditation practice for students. Both those institutions have had highly encouraging experiences in the area and strongly believe that meditation practice helps students - especially in today’s world of short attention spans and constant distraction caused by smartphones, social media etc.  

“Through mindfulness, students learn to give themselves the breathing room they require to take in what’s happening in and around them, see it more clearly through a positive lens, and react more intentionally. By being curious about, and attending to, present-moment experiences, students learn about their reactions, patterns, and themselves. They begin to understand that they have a choice and can take space to respond rather than react to everyday stresses,” says Lucy Keller, a Mindfulness Mentor at UWCT.  

And if you don’t want to take her word for it, there is science. The results of a research on the effectiveness of Mindfulness in Schools Programs have recently been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Scientists tested the method on 522 students aged 12–16, in twelve secondary schools, who either participated in the ‘Mindfulness in Schools Program’ or carried along with the usual curriculum. The researchers found out that students who practised mindfulness experienced better well-being and less stress. The findings provide a promising evidence of the program’s acceptability and efficacy – concluded the scientists.

Frankly, here at UWCT or at Yaowawit, no one is surprised by those findings. What we do find surprising is that meditation isn’t taught in every school in Phuket, and beyond.