Mindfulness For Kids: Why We Should Be Encouraging Young People To Find Inner Peace

Once upon a time mindfulness was reserved for spiritual types sitting cross-legged on the tops of faraway mountains, but these days the mind-calming practice has well and truly gone mainstream.

Now, everyone is doing it, from comedian and HuffPost UK blogger Ruby Wax to high-flying bankers ditching the city for a life of peace.

But what exactly is it? Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that involves focusing on the present moment while acknowledging and accepting feelings and thoughts - whether positive or negative.

While the practice is certainly helping adults deal with negative tendencies such stress, self-doubt and anxiety, many believe that principles could also be hugely beneficial if used for children and teenagers.

A series of research papers quoted by Katherine Weare , Emeritus Professor, Universities of Exeter and Southampton, show that regular practice not only helps young people deal with strong emotions, but increases concentration and improves performance at school.

"Teaching mindfulness gives young people the skills they need to self-manage, whether that be to cope with difficult emotions or to refocus positive energy," Claire Kelly, former vice principle and operations director at Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

Claire first started practising mindfulness while working as a teacher to help her cope with work stress. When she saw the benefits, she started to implement it at school.

“Often wellbeing and academic performance is seen as two separate things," she told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "Can a child who is struggling emotionally perform to the best of their ability academically? No, they can’t.”

And it's not just in the UK that this is being implemented, schools around the world are also embracing mindfulness.

HuffPost UK blogger Anna Moody teaches mindfulness to teenagers in Rhodes, Greece, says that the benefits to her students has been invaluable.

Anna says very essence of mindfulness teaching has improved her students self-confidence and performance in class.

"Children are prone to zoning out in lessons," she says. "But by communicating with them on a level they understand - through watching inspirational footage, using diagrams and being open with them - they remain focused and engaged."

"Our classes are full of laughter and positive energy, which is the optimum environment to thrive and retain information. I have a sea of hands all trying to excitedly engage and express their thoughts."

She admits that, at first, children didn't have a clue what mindfulness was, but now her class has grown in popularity.

"To begin with my teenagers had to voluntarily sign up for the class, but since word has spread the numbers have doubled," she told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "The headmaster was so impressed he has decided to incorporate it into the syllabus so that all the 13-17 years old will now engage in a mindfulness class at least once a week."

So what does this mean for schools in the UK?

Claire believes that mindfulness should be part of the national curriculum, although she admits it is unlikely that this will be happening any time soon.

“It’s much more feasible for mindfulness to be introduced in teacher training. This would not only allow teachers to look after their wellbeing - many reach burn out and drop out in their first few years - but mindfulness principles would filter through into their teaching methods."

Of course, there's no need to simply wait around for your child's school to catch on, HuffPost Parents have got a great guide on how to introduce mindfulness into your child's life.