A quick surf around the internet will yield many definitions of mindfulness, because different groups of people emphasize different parts of the practice. Mindfulness has its roots in ancient eastern meditation practices, but has been taken out of this religious context and become a completely secular and approachable set of life skills used by millions of people across the world. Doctors, actors, pro athletes, teachers, and Fortune 500 CEO’s are now practicing mindfulness for the health and performance benefits which have been backed by current research.
The definition I use when talking to kids or adults is noticing what is happening now inside and outside your body and mind with kindness and curiosity. A simple definition might be paying attention, on purpose, or even more simply, noticing.
Mindfulness is both a state of mind and a personality trait - you can be mindful of your breakfast (state) as you are chewing your oatmeal. People who engage this mental state often might be described as being mindful (trait.)
Here are a few definitions from the kids:
About Roots & Wings
Roots & Wings, LLC strives to breathe some positivity and joy back into K-12 schools by providing mindfulness-based training for teachers and students. We use mindfulness techniques to teach teachers how to respond vs. react to the daily struggles of being an educator in today’s culture, and give students tools to manage their impulses, regulate their emotions, and sustain their attention. We also work individually with students and adults to teach real life strategies and skills to increase focus, productivity, and promote well-being and positive relationships.
Roots & Wings, LLC was founded in 2013 to fill what Jenny Mills saw as a huge need in education. Jenny taught in K-12 schools across New Jersey and Pennsylvania - charter and public, suburban and inner-city, teaching students young and old. Across all of these very different settings one thing was certain - it was getting more and more stressful to succeed in school, and no one was teaching our students (or their teachers!) how to manage the demands and ever-increasing pressures of the teaching and learning environment. Having a long-standing meditation and yoga practice, Jenny began to incorporate simple mindfulness-based strategies into her teaching and saw immediate positive results. When kids learned to notice when they were distracted or worried and took action to get their attention back on track, both students and teachers thrived in a relaxed and self-aware classroom environment.
Jenny Mills, M.Ed. is the founder of Roots & Wings, LLC whose mission is to make mindfulness accessible to teachers, youth, and families. She received a Masters in Special Education and a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University and is dually certified in special and general education. Always seeking information about how the brain learns, Jenny served as a research assistant to various professors at Rutgers and Widener University. After teaching elementary school in Moorestown, New Jersey, Jenny was awarded a Michael Pressley Memorial Fellowship at the Benchmark School in Media, Pennsylvania. While studying struggling readers and executive functioning under Dr. Irene Gaskins, Jenny co-authored a curriculum for beginning readers. Before opening Roots & Wings, Jenny served as a mindfulness instructor and literacy specialist at Arise Academy High School, a unique inner-city charter school designed for 14-21 year olds served by the Department of Human Services. Jenny has presented at international, national, and local conferences on the topics of literacy, formative assessment, and mindfulness. She has practiced meditation since 2005, and has received extensive training in mindfulness under many teachers including Ahn Huong, Thu Nguyen, Michael Baime, and more. Jenny currently partners with Dr. Elizabeth Mackenzie and Dr. Suzanne Fegley of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania to study the effects of the Roots & Wings Everyday Mindfulness for Schools teacher training. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching a course called Reenergizing School Communities Using Mindfulness-Based Practices.
In 2015 Jenny published her first children’s book, Mindful Moments: Trevor’s Tale and in 2013 produced her first guided meditation CD, Roots & Wings Mindfulness Meditations, both available on Amazon.com. Most recently Jenny published Students Can't Pay Attention and Other Lies I Believed: 16 Lessons to Build Foundational Skills and Reclaim Your Classroom (Routledge, N.Y.) Find them here! When she’s not working, you can usually find Jenny spending time outdoors with her husband Burton and two children Talula and Zachary.