Inner Explorer created Mission Moments to keep you updated on the impact your support and generosity has on those we serve. We want to share not only program developments, but also the stories that warm our hearts and fuel our mission to reach ten million mindful children by 2020. A goal we accomplished because of you.
Fostering Compassion and Empathy With Mindfulness: A Step Towards Healing Division
When Inner Explorer was founded in 2011, co-founders Janice Houlihan and Laura Bakosh expressed a common sentiment our team often hears from educators and caregivers who join their children in daily mindfulness practice: “I wish I had learned these skills when I was younger!”
Fostering social and emotional skills, like mindfulness, not only reduces stress and improves our well-being, but it can also play a lead role in healing division in our communities. When taught early on, these social emotional skills become lifelong tools and can shape generations to come.
“Children today are facing division from many angles – not just within their community, but they are also bombarded via social media and technology. Having resources to manage their mental health and shape how they respond to external triggers is not just a nice to have, but a necessity,” says Houlihan.
Mindfulness helps us find a sense of calm and ease, while also teaching us how to understand differences and face challenges with awareness, compassion and empathy – versus defensiveness, hate or violence.
Research confirms that the result of learning mindfulness at a young age can help shape important cognitive regulation skills; in a study of two groups of combined 4th and 5th graders, one group was assigned to the SEL/Mindfulness program and the other a social responsibility program. The students in the SEL/Mindfulness program saw greater improvements in cognitive control, empathy, emotional control, optimism and stress reduction.
Educators and caregivers can practice mindfulness alongside their children to experience the same benefits, plus encourage conversation around how we can use mindfulness in times of stress, anger or frustration.
As part of a presentation on equity and social justice, Inner Explorer Board Member Dr. Janette Hernandez, who has over 30 years of experience leading equity in education, offers two simple questions to reflect on when it comes to creating change and overcoming division: “What part of the world is within your reach for you to mend?” and “What kinds of small, calm things have you done and can you do to help others?”
While creating change in our communities can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be – something as simple as a short, 10-minute daily mindfulness practice has the ability to make an impact on our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015)
The Inner Explorer team
Last year we piloted one class with Inner Explorer’s mindfulness program. The one class who used it was the calmest class with the fewest incident reports (0 versus an average of 25 in the other classrooms!) and had the high estacademic gains in reading (initially 10 of 28 students werebelow grade level, at the end of the year 0 of 28 werebelow, including several special needs students!). We are expanding into all the classrooms this year.Principal, Sarasota, FL
Inner Explorer is very user friendly and easy to implement. We have seen a dramatic increase in the positive behaviors of the students in the classrooms where the program is donewith fidelity. The investment of 5-10 minutes daily, comes back to you exponentially! Programs such as this should berequired in all schools! Ileana Mellan, Principal,Mater Academy.
We had just started IE a few months prior to the marathon bombing in Boston. Third grade was particularly traumatizedas that was the grade that lost Martin. By continuing toparticipate in IE each day after the bombing, IE served asgood trauma first-aid for several reasons: Maintaining familiar routines and rituals Ongoing teaching of calm down strategies. A safe space and sense of security. Helped teachers and students with self-care Director of Special Ed and Student Support.
Inner Explorer has empowered our students to handle stress, anxiety, and negative emotions in a constructive manner. The 5-10 minute guided audio practices are long enough toprovide immediate positive effects and short enough as tonot disrupt instructional time. Teachers have said that they themselves have used the mindfulness strategies to reduce their own stress. Inner Explorer is simple to use, empowers students and teachers to self-regulate their emotions, and their team is always readily available to answer questions/address concerns Aida Trujillo, AssistantPrincipal