Can mindfulness really combat bullying?

In a word: absolutely! Mindfulness, in a nut-shell, is the process of witnessing the present moment without judgment or engagement. It is the tool through which we come to see ourselves, our relationships, and our world more clearly. People from all ages and walks of life can practice and benefit from mindfulness. Here’s how:

Mindfulness cultivates self-awareness:

Most people are genuinely interested in being kind, honest, and positive. It is also true that no human being is without bias and socialized prejudice. It takes awareness to notice how our thoughts influence our social behavior – and awareness takes a still, clear mind. That’s why mindfulness is fundamental to personal and collective efforts toward equity and peace. When we can see the problem and all that contributes to it, we are empowered to stand up and make a difference.

Mindfulness cultivates compassion:

Through the process of mindfulness makes it easier for us to experience others with greater compassion. Like you, others are trying to go about their life as best they can. They are afraid to lose what is important to them. They hope to make a great life for themselves. When we can see someone else as our equal, we are less prone to judgment, labeling, and bullying behaviors. (But remember this: compassion and tolerating unacceptable behavior are NOT the same thing.)

Mindfulness builds resilience:

Perhaps the most powerful influence of mindfulness is that it activates the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that regulates emotions and behaviors inspired by emotions). Taking a step back to objectively consider how external influences such as our relationships, our bodily comfort, and our lived experiences influence our emotions facilitates personal insight that makes it easier to cope with negative influences outside of us.

PRACTICE NOW! You don’t have to take a formal sitting meditation to practice mindfulness. Try this simple breathing exercise throughout your day, and notice what happens!

Bring one hand to your belly and one hand to your chest. Notice how your breath moves your hands – is one moving more than the other? Are they moving at the same time, or in succession? Close your eyes and take five minutes to witness how the experience of breathing feels in your body. If you become distracted by thoughts, think to yourself “that’s a thought”, and return your attention to the experience of breathing.

At Defeat The Label, we believe that empathy, courage, and education are the most powerful antidotes to bullying. That’s why we work so hard to teach students and adults how to practice empathy and courage – mindfully so! – in their daily lives.

Author: Kelsey Dovicio

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