Thanks to new exercises in “mindful breathing,” children at a Singapore elementary school are discovering greater peace of mind and better focus as they pursue their lessons, according to a report from the Straits Times. Discover how the practice works and the greater implications it may have for adults as well.

An Exercise in Mindfulness

At Westwood Primary School, students have begun practicing “mindful breathing” under the direction of teachers. About five minutes before recess ends, the children take their places on benches and close their eyes. Most remain still, breathing in and out slowly as directed; although some of the children tend to fidget and play around. The exercise lasts for two minutes.

A surprising number of the students are taking the exercise seriously and finding how much it helps them. One Primary 4 student, aged 10, explained, “It helps me when I’m stressed. I take deep breaths and cool down.”

The Importance of Positivity

The introduction of the exercise began in 2016, in the wake of a spike in young suicides in Singapore. The government and citizens are becoming more aware of the amount of pressure that can land on the shoulders of children as young as 8 or 9. Westwood Primary decided to implement a “positive education” mindset for its students, and the mindful breathing is one of the ways that the positivity is being encouraged.

Self-Awareness and Mood Regulation

According to experts, mindfulness involves the simple awareness of one’s self, including one’s own sensations, surroundings, and thoughts. It is taking a few moment to simply exist, with awareness of everything in the mind and outside the body. Nothing is judged; all is recognised and accepted. Research indicates that mindfulness, along with deep, purposeful breathing, can increase a person’s sense of calm and lower stress levels. The mindful breathing purges the body of some pent-up negative energy.

Westwood teachers have noticed other benefits, too. At the end of recess, children seem more rested and focused, better able to turn their minds from play back to learning. They are better able to control their moods. “Mindfulness helps children regulate their emotions and thoughts,” says Ms. Sophia Tan, a high-level teacher at the school. “As it becomes a routine and habit, they can use it in other aspects of their lives.”

Implementation Across Singapore

Other primary and secondary schools have pursued exercises like mindful breathing during the past few years as well. Damai Primary has three-minute breathing sessions, while International school UWCSEA East has been doing breathing and mindfulness exercises for three years. Some studies hint at significant benefits for young people, especially in relation to their mental balance, social experience, and emotional health.

Treatment for Stress and Anxiety

Mental health clinics in Singapore often use techniques of this type in the treatment of mental illness. At Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, we employ a variety of therapies, from time-tested practices to modern exercises. If you’re interested in art therapy, EMDR, and other forms of treatment for anxiety or stress, contact our care team today. We’ll provide you with a prompt appointment at our beautiful Singapore clinic so that you can begin your journey to better mental health.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Straits Times, 14 March 2017