Mindfulness and Diversity: Why are They Important For Your School?

Research confirms that mindfulness is instrumental when it comes to developing empathy. From empathy comes compassion and the ability to relate to one another which is conducive to cultivating diversity in school communities.

Mindfulness and empathy are at the very heart of the matter

With so much polarization right now, mindfulness and empathy could well be considered superpowers. Experiencing your feelings makes it easier to recognize and relate to what others are going through.

In California, a kindergarten girl witnessed a fifth-grade boy acting out in anger and throwing things out of a cabinet. As the young girl was taken out of the room, she said, "please tell Dominic that he should do this (she motioned her hands to show a symbol called shark fin) because that's what I do when I'm afraid."

How extraordinary that despite the anger displayed by the older student, this mindful child was able to see the fear that was driving the behavior and meet the moment with tremendous compassion.

We need to come together as a community in school, and mindfulness creates community astonishingly well. It enables us to work cooperatively and appreciate everything that each of us brings into any interaction -- and all of us have something of value to say.

Mindfulness, diversity, and inclusion initiatives are urgently needed in schools today

While many are under the false assumption that racial issues in our country were a thing of the past, we are now seeing that they've been lying dormant just under the surface. And relations between multiple races, nationalities, religions, cultures, and ideologies are now at a fever pitch.

We see and hear of multiple slayings of Black lives and Chinese Americans being assaulted and wrongly blamed for the virus, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.We also bear witness to ongoing racism against Jews and atrocities against Native Americans, and we must not turn a blind eye. Immigrants, too, face a host of hardships and discrimination.

We must build greater awareness of who we are as individuals and what is beneath the surface to get at the root of the hate and prejudice that many of us carry. Mindfulness allows us to explore issues without judgment, and that's essential when discussing something as tender as racism and hatred.

It's hard to hate someone up close; once you see their humanity, it allows us to build relationships and tear down the things that divide us with affinity and warmth.

Addressing Mental Health in Schools Hinges on Prevention

It’s imperative to orient our focus around prevention. Indeed, we know without a doubt that mental health is critical, and it is directly linked to academic success. Yet, mental health is at an all-time low among students of every age group. The conversation around how stress affects the developing brain and leads to mental and physical health disorders has been ongoing for a decade or more. The welcome news is that more and more people are grasping the value of mindfulness entirely.

It’s no coincidence that mindfulness is promoted and practiced among top performers in nearly every field. Olympic athletes, NFL, NHL, NBA, huge corporations, Dept of Defense, Navy, Airforce, universities, even countries, Mindful Nation UK – recognize its measurable impact on health, wellbeing, and performance. Look to those organizations for inspiration. If the adult world is prioritizing mindfulness doesn’t it make sense to teach our kids, particularly as they are going through massive brain changes that would be enhanced by this training? Aren’t our students and teachers worthy of the same opportunities?

It’s time to embrace the adage ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ In this case, teaching mindfulness in the classroom, particularly since it’s automated, scalable and incredibly easy for educators and entire districts, the prevention (10 minutes a day) delivers astonishing gains in mental, social, behavioral, and emotional health, leading to enhanced academic performance. Every day (180 days) among program participants, mindfulness reaches every child and is a proven remedy to mental health woes.

The evidence was clear with toothbrushing; awareness and simplicity finally moved things to where most people brushed every day. Let us lead the way and incorporate mindfulness to permanently prioritize the practice as a daily habit that supports mental health. The value of prevention is inestimable.

The question becomes, given the mountains of scientific evidence, why are we not teaching mindfulness in the classroom (EVERY classroom) nationwide?

How can schools take ownership of their mindfulness, diversity, and inclusion journey?

Ideally, we need schools committed to embodying all that is good, teaching their students intentionally about culture and social justice and compassion and empathy.

Consider those in the LGBTQ+ community – that is a part of diversity too. If a person is transgender or questioning their identity, can they be their authentic selves, or do they have to put on a mask and play charades?

Have the honesty and the courage to be open to things that are different than your way; that takes mindfulness because the truth is-- diversity is uncomfortable. Yes, it's challenging to have conversations with someone you do not see eye to eye with, which means you may disagree and experience pushback. How do you allow those feelings without blowing a gasket?

Rather than being threatened by differences, we need to celebrate them – it makes for a more enriching and interesting community.

Mindfulness teaches us lessons that last a lifetime, including:

  • how to turn towards uncomfortable emotions and feelings
  • how to allow thoughts to simply be
  • tap into our goodness, strength, and capabilities

Mindfulness is all about learning from the inside out. Rest assured, our Inner Explorer Team regularly examines what mindfulness and diversity, and inclusion mean for us as a collective. Bi-weekly, the Inner Explorer team takes a deep dive into topics such as race, privilege, allyship, immigration, as they impact us personally and professionally.

It's imperative to honor listening to each other and not be afraid; mindfulness is the key to achieving this. Schools can take ownership by recognizing they need to acknowledge the reality of what's true. And they have to allow people to tell their stories and create space for it.

Mindfulness is the cornerstone that your school can build upon

Your school can begin to build a culture of mindfulness and belonging by starting all your staff meetings with mindfulness, by acknowledging that it's essential and that every kid needs it every day.

The beauty of Inner Explorer mindfulness programming is that it's easy to implement, and it's a press and play audio program, which takes no preparation or training for teachers or counseling staff. Take a moment to experience mindfulness for yourself.

Each community member is as important as the next; honor that and provide the tools to bring about systemic change. Because schools are vast systems of support, access and mindfulness programming should be available to all within the community:


Explore a case study of one diverse school that implemented Inner Explorer's mindfulness programming with excellent outcomes.

Key Takeaways on Mindfulness and Diversity

As a community, we also may experience shared pain; knowing that we're in this together, we can work it out when we're doing mindfulness and create trust, friendship, and kindness. Dive into the rewards of embracing mindfulness as the foundation to addressing diversity with dignity and grace:

  1. Mindfulness belongs in every school to support diversity
  2. Mindfulness builds our capacity for resilience and understanding
  3. Resilience enhances the mental bandwidth to hope and strive for more

Daily mindfulness practice goes directly to that part of the brain that gets triggered when we are hyper-aroused, stressed, or fearful. And it allows that part of the brain to shrink so that we can access the part of the brain responsible for higher-level thinking, and higher perspective is necessary to come to a place of understanding.

Inner Explorer brings daily mindfulness programs to school communities to address the root causes of inequity and injustice. Making mindfulness and diversity a priority brings about transformational change.

Join us in addressing diversity by implementing MBSEL's in your school, won't you?

It’s clear that mindfulness and diversity matter, and incorporating mindfulness-based social and emotional learning shifts the mindsets
that divide us.