But what if you can’t?!
Many teens have all the best intentions, but time and again they find their attention has wandered… until suddenly they’re brought back from their daydream by a teacher’s question, by the seemingly sudden movement and industriousness of their peers around them (books being opened, writing commencing), or maybe it’s a parent asking/waiting for a response during a conversation they (thought they) were having.
…. And the teen is left bewildered, wondering “what”?… “what just happened”?
When I run these scenarios by high school students and ask if they can relate, everyone raises their hand. In fact, many are nodding enthusiastically while I’m describing a scenario.
I believe teens for the most part truly want to do well, I mean, who wants to fail?!
Yoga and other mindfulness practices help with focus.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose to your present moment experience, without judgement
Through mindfulness we train our attention, so that we have a choice! You can still choose the daydream over learning… but at least it really is up to you.
This is why Yoga and Mindfulness is EMPOWERING! It puts us back in the driver seat of our own life! Rather than be at the mercy of a wandering mind, sometimes leading to unwanted emotions (stay tuned for a future blog on how yoga and mindfulness helps with emotional regulation), teens can be in charge of their reactions and their focus. And having more control of your own life is a very real desire for most (if not all) teens.
Noticing when you’re distracted or that your attention is starting to drift and having the ability to bring your attention back to what you have decided is your focus for that time is a powerful tool in living your life on purpose.
Being able to pay attention is a fundamental skill necessary in order to learn, but interestingly it’s just an assumed ability, leaving some teachers tearing their hair out or spending countless hours trying to make their lessons more engaging. There’s a lot of merit in attempting to make a lesson as engaging as possible but sometimes even when students are highly motivated its still a challenge to continue to pay attention for a sustained period of time. Especially considering that adolescents are neurologically drawn to high-excitement or low-effort experiences, or both!
Paying attention to your own breath for example is not the most exciting and motivating thing to be doing! But it’s a practice and it doesn’t involve any negative consequences if you struggle to do it… in fact, every time you realise your attention has drifted, it’s considered an excellent opportunity to gently bring attention back to the point of focus. Nothing lost, but an opportunity gained to strengthen the ability to notice. There are many other ways to practice mindfulness though which can be more engaging than awareness of breath, but this is as simple as the practice needs to be. What’s exciting is that numerous studies have found that a mindfulness practice does improve focus* (among other things).
Yoga and mindfulness in schools is a great way to provide access to valuable life skills for all students. Get in touch to discuss how it can be a part of your school.