In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mindfulness, Learning, and Education

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • What Is Mindfulness?
  • Benefits Associated with Mindfulness Practice
  • The Place of Mindfulness in the Educational Curriculum
  • Mindfulness Interventions
  • Teaching Mindfulness
  • Critical Perspectives

Education Mindfulness, Learning, and Education
Joanna Higgins, Rebecca Jane Keane
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 February 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 February 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0199


Mindfulness is an age-old practice derived from Buddhist philosophy and practice of nonjudgmental attention and awareness to being in the present moment. It has been steadily gaining popularity in the West as a nonsecular practice since the late 20th century, as evidenced by a growing number of websites and promotion through social media, including endorsements by celebrities. Many journals have published special editions devoted to mindfulness practices, and the journal Mindfulness began in 2010 (see General Overviews). A number of studies report ways of measuring mindfulness, such as the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), which has been adapted for various populations (see Brown and Ryan 2003, cited under Benefits Associated with Mindfulness Practice). Similarly, there is a growing literature reporting interventions across age groups and settings that aim to foster mindfulness, such as Soles of the Feet (see Felver, et al. 2014, cited under Interventions with Early Childhood and Elementary School Students), MindUP, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (see Be Mindful, cited under General Overviews). In recent years, mindfulness as an intervention has found its way out of clinical settings and into learning institutions such as schools and tertiary institutions, as well as informal learning settings such as the home. Two emerging and related bodies of inquiry underpin its appeal and application; one is evidence that mindfulness practice can improve cognitive functioning and emotional awareness, the other is a suggestion that mindfulness practice can also improve achievement. A growing body of literature critiquing mindfulness interventions in various everyday settings, including education, raises questions about undermining mindfulness practices’ spiritual origins in attempts to commodify the practice. This article is focused on the relationship between mindfulness practices and learning in everyday educational settings, where it is promoted as enhancing student and teacher well-being, such as providing strategies for increasing resilience. The implementation of mindfulness programs in educational settings prompts consideration of a range of factors, such as duration of course and session times, adaptations that need to be made to the practice in terms of the age of the participants, the curriculum context, and fidelity to traditional practice. In informal settings such as the home, it is advanced as a means of improving parenting. Where possible, the article presents the most recent and robust studies.

General Overviews

There are increasing numbers of websites promoting mindfulness practices aimed at all age groups and contexts. These are up-to-the-minute ways of finding out about current research and practice. The websites selected for this section are associated with the use of mindfulness practices to support and promote learning in everyday settings. Many include links to research studies and scholarly commentaries. For example, the UK-based Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, associated with Bangor University, and the American Mindfulness Research Association specifically promote research on mindfulness. The Mindful Schools site is designed for teachers to have easy access to current studies and practices within the classroom. Country-level mental health foundations have mindfulness-dedicated websites, such as the UK Mental Health Foundation’s Be Mindful and the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation’s Mindfulness Works. These websites provide resources such as directories of practitioners and examples of how to practice mindfulness, with many having video clips. Similarly, the Australian Childhood Foundation, a government-sponsored organization, details mindful parenting practices. In addition, at least two edited handbooks by leading researchers and proponents of mindfulness (Brown, et al. 2014 and Le, et al. 2014) have been published with chapters providing a comprehensive account of developments in the field.

  • American Mindfulness Research Association.

    This US-based association encourages members to promote mindfulness-based research and practice. It highlights current and archived research, news, and articles on the use and benefits of mindfulness.

  • Australian Childhood Foundation. 2012. Mindful parenting. Ringwood: Australian government.

    Includes sections on how to be a mindful parent and how to practice mindfulness parenting, as well as information on childhood brain development, emotions and behavior, simple mindfulness techniques, and reflective exercises from both parents and children’s points of view. Easy to follow and engage with.

  • Be Mindful.

    A UK-based website linked to the national mental health foundation. Site provides links to information about mindfulness, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and courses in the United Kingdom that teach mindfulness techniques. Provides videos for illustration and personal accounts from participants. Easy to navigate.

  • Brown, Kirk Warren, J. David Cresswell, and Richard M. Ryan, eds. 2014. Handbook of mindfulness: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Guildford.

    Presents twenty-three chapters from a variety of authors. Divided into five parts: Historical and Conceptual Overview of Mindfulness, Mindfulness in the Context of Contemporary Psychological Theory, The Basic Science of Mindfulness, Mindfulness Intervention for Healthy Populations, and Mindfulness Interventions for Clinical Populations.

  • Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice.

    A UK-based website linked to Bangor University. The focus of the center is to promote research that supports the use of mindfulness. Provides links to research, teacher training, tertiary level study, and local courses.

  • Le, Amanda, Christelle T. Ngnoumen, and Ellen Langer, eds. 2014. The Wiley Blackwell handbook of mindfulness. 2 vols. Chichester, UK: John Wiley.

    Presents fifty-two chapters from a variety of authors. Divided into five parts: Origins and Theory; Consciousness, Cognition, and Emotion; Leadership and Organizational Behavior; Health, Well-Being, and Performance; and Education, Creativity, and Coaching. Links to a website titled The Langer Mindfulness Institute.

  • Mindful Schools.

    A US-based website promoting the use of mindfulness techniques in schools. Provides updates to current research and articles through the organization’s Facebook page.

  • Mindfulness 2010–.

    Academic journal dedicated to the study of mindfulness. Published by Springer and founded in 2010.

  • Mindfulness Works.

    A New Zealand–based website. Links promote the use of mindfulness techniques in different environments and the organization’s work in New Zealand schools. Provides a directory of trainers and upcoming workshops nationally. Updates from this website can be received through the organization’s Facebook page.

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