What is Embodied Teaching?
Embodied Teaching™ is a mindful education training program. Created for educational institutions, Embodied TeachingTM has since been embraced by leaders in a variety of fields in which interpersonal communication skills play a crucial role.
Schools, corporations, and other organizations are increasingly incorporating mindfulness training as an effective strategy to support all stakeholder groups, thereby increasing resiliency and improving outcomes. These mindfulness programs tend to be practice oriented, directed solely toward one sub-population as individual practitioners, without taking advantage of the context and nature of the connections between subpopulations; for example, teachers and students in a classroom teachers and their students.
Although existing mindfulness training programs for schools generally do encourage teachers to develop their own mindfulness practices, with the idea that doing so will make them more effective at teaching mindfulness to their students, there remains a disconnect between learning personal mindfulness skills and successfully implementing those skills in the classroom, specifically with respect to transferring those skills to students and generally with respect to creating a mindful environment for learning, that is, creating a mindful classroom.
Embodied TeachingTM is not a curriculum; it’s an approach based on the concept that the essence of mindfulness training is the development of attentional skills, and that there are foundational elements of trainable attentional skills common to all mindfulness practice and intervention. These can be called concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity (as identified by Unified Mindfulness). Since our approach is not restrained by context-specific curricula, then, it is quite general, and can be adapted to a wide variety of environments. Similarly, once a teacher understands the component parts of attentional skill building and a few strategies for practice, they can customize their approach to whatever mindful education training program they are using and, at the same time, increase their own baseline level of mindful awareness; that is, mindful training in the classroom becomes a practice period for the teacher as well as the students. Furthermore, because it’s an approach, not a curriculum, the principles of Embodied TeachingTM can be applied to many other contexts besides mindfulness training in schools.
Embodied Teaching training offers teachers 1) practical knowledge and strategies for implementing a mindfulness practice for themselves and in their classrooms, 2) ways to get the most out of an existing mindfulness curriculum, and 3) how to reap ever-growing benefits of a mindfulness practice without having to find more time in an already busy schedule. It is predicated on three fundamental concepts.
- Children are still learning many skills taken for granted in adults – It may seem obvious, but it is profoundly unrealistic to expect children to stay focused and concentrated on individual meditation practices with which even adults often struggle, including something seemingly as simple as watching the breath. Mindfulness training for students must teach to their level, and must incorporate strategies for keeping students engaged. The challenge is not to reduce it to triviality or mere entertainment.
- A classroom is not a meditation center – It may seem obvious, but it is profoundly unrealistic to expect children to stay focused and concentrated on individual meditation practices with which even adults often struggle, including something seemingly as simple as watching the breath. Mindfulness training for students must teach to their level, and must incorporate strategies for keeping students engaged. The challenge is not to reduce it to triviality or mere entertainment.
- The ultimate goal is a mindful classroom that fosters improved educational experiences and outcomes – Creating a mindful classroom requires that the principles of mindful education are embodied in the teacher in the form of attitudes, interactions and resiliency. Research in Educational Psychology emphasizes the crucial impact of these factors on the classroom environment. Embodied Teaching™ trains teachers to model attentive, patient interaction with the students, with confidence in the process, and fulfillment in the present moment, which are at the heart of mindful education.