Mindfulness is one of the pillars of what we do at Sea Change–high quality academics, our physical education program (anchored by the swim program) are two other pillars upon which our school is built. And there are many other attractive features to our school, like the fine arts program, global travel, our collaborative environment, and a fantastic location. But what do we mean by mindfulness, and why is it a pillar–one of the foundations for everything else?
Mindfulness has been described as the ability to pay attention in a particular way, non-judgmentally, in the present moment, on purpose. This is the classic formulation by Jon Kabat Zinn, and it is a good working definition for what we do at Sea Change. Another way to think about it is that it is a way of paying attention to our experience that allows us to respond to events with conscious choice rather than thoughtless reaction. We believe–and now there is an incredible amount of research, with more coming seemingly each day–that this is a skill that can be developed. But why is it important and valuable to develop it?
Actually, it is core to accomplishing our mission. Our mission is to empower our students to lead successful and balanced lives. The student can only do that by making the right choices–on a moment by moment basis– in their life. The “right” choices are those consistent with the values we embrace here– honesty, compassion, always aspiring to do their best (in academics, athletics, and life), to inspire others, to be collaborative and teamwork oriented. Ultimately, to act with courage, which means to act in accord with these values when the world, or their peers, are suggesting they act in ways inconsistent with those values–like lying, playing video games, taking drugs, being lazy or selfish, or acting in any other way which is not likely to lead to a successful balanced, and happy life.
Mindfulness equips the student (and our teachers and staff by the way) with an enhanced ability to make the right, or the skillful choice, which is the choice that is most likely to lead to a successful, balanced and thus happy life.
And at Sea Change, that is what we are all about.