How Mindfulness Practice can Support SEL

“In order to be that gentler, stronger, more resilient version of me I must first stop, breathe, and learn how to simply be.”

Jai Gaurangi

The past two blogs have discussed what mindfulness and social emotional learning is. But how can we use mindfulness practice to benefit social emotional learning? Luckily for us, research is increasing in this area and shows promise of how mindfulness practice can support social emotional learning. In fact, Greenberg (2014) proposed a conceptual framework that discusses how mindfulness practice can promote the development of social-emotional competencies. Recall from the previous blog that there are a total of five social emotional learning components: (1) self-awareness, (2) self-management, (3) social awareness, (4) responsible decision-making, and (5) relationship skills (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2013). Now let us review how mindfulness practice can promote these five components of SEL.

First, mindfulness practice can promote an individual to learn and self-explore about their inner self (Lawlor, 2016). Practicing mindfulness creates the opportunity for the individual to ponder “Who am I?” This can lead the individual to understanding their own underlying feelings, meanings, and purposes, which can assist the individual in developing their own self-awareness (Lawlor, 2016). Additionally, developing trait mindfulness, which refers to an individual’s overall mindful state, can help the individual identify and express their emotions, (Dekeyser, 2008; Lawlor, 2016). The ability to recognize and communicate emotions are major pieces of self-awareness (Lawlor, 2016). As for self-management, fostering a mindful state encourages an individual to not avoid or push away challenging emotions (Lawlor, 2016). Instead, it promotes a more accepting, reflective response to certain emotions and experiences (Lawlor, 2016). This allows an individual to better handle tough emotions and persevere towards their goals, thus assisting with self-management (Lawlor, 2016). Third, practicing mindfulness can help an individual express oneself in social settings and express empathy, in a positive manner (Lawlor, 2016). Mindfulness encourages not only for an individual to focus on their self, but also on others, and this in turn can promote social awareness (Lawlor, 2016). Mindfulness practice can further support relationship skills by creating a nonreactive state of listening and responding to others in a thoughtful manner that can promote healthy relationship skills (Lawlor, 2016). Finally, practicing mindfulness fosters an individual’s ability to be nonjudgmental towards experiences, which can remove bias when making decisions (Lawlor, 2016). This allows the

individual to make decisions that are based on compassion and ethics, rather than being based on their own prejudices (Lawlor, 2016). Overall, integrating mindfulness practice can support the five components of SEL and help individuals experience the numerous benefits that come with it.

Mindfulness Activity

Feel free to participate in this short three minute Mindfulness activity led by Amanda McMahon, Ph.D. from Washington State University.