Our work draws from a wide variety of disciplines including mindfulness & contemplative science, neuroscience, behavioral psychology, trauma therapy, as well as philosophy and the humanities. Some key concepts and frameworks that inform our approach are:
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a quality of attention that involves noticing our present experience without automatically reacting to it or trying to change it. This awareness allows us to notice our current habits of behavior and mind, as well as to respond differently to what’s going on in our lives and make different choices. Mindfulness is not always easy or pleasant, but with practice and guidance, we learn to deal with difficult sensations, emotions, and experiences that are a natural part of life. In the medical world, mindfulness is now validated as a viable intervention for difficulties related to stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and even chronic pain. In school settings, it helps teachers and students cultivate important skills like focus, self-regulation, and compassion. For more on the research about the benefits of mindfulness, see this comprehensive review from Mindful Schools.
Perma-H: Psychologists have narrowed in on a core set of practices that actively buffer against mental health challenges like anxiety and depression, and lead people beyond the experience of just surviving and instead to actively thriving. The PERMA-H framework, which encompasses a wide set of practices ranging from gratitude to goal-setting, focuses on cultivating:
- Positive Emotions
- Sense of Engagement
- Positive Relationships
- Sense of Meaning & Purpose
- Sense of Accomplishment
- Physical Health & Resilient Thinking
Developed by former head of the APA Dr. Martin Seligman and adapted for use in schools in partnership with the Geelong Grammar School Institute of Positive Education, this framework provides an accessible roadmap for individual habit change as well as organization-wide culture change. For more on the benefits of cultivating these domains, see the GGS Institute of Positive Education’s literature review.
Character Strengths: The VIA Character Strengths Inventory (Values in Action) catalogs 24 character traits universally celebrated across cultures and generations. It provides positive language for recognizing qualities inherent in each person, in contrast to the deficit-based language that is often the focus of feedback. Research shows that naming and recognizing strengths in ourselves and others builds positive relationships and positive self-concept that provide a basis for both cognitive and emotional resilience as well as learning readiness. For more on these findings, see the VIA Character Institute’s summary of research findings.
Just Getting Started? Here are a few resources to help get you on your way
- Mindfulness Fundamentals: Mindful Schools’ 6-week online introduction to mindfulness practice
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: a standard 8-week course offered by many instructors around the country, and also online
Books for Practicing Mindfulness:
- Mindfulness: An 8 Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World ~ Mark Willams & Danny Penman
- Mindfulness for Beginners ~ Jon Kabat Zinn
Apps for Mindfulness:
- Stop, Breathe, Think & Stop, Breathe, Think Kids (free for educators)
- Calm (free for educators)
- Headspace (discounted for educators)
Apps for Mood & Habit Change: