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Mindfulness survey: Introduction

Introduction

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Welcome to the Solloway Mindfulness Survey (SMS). This survey is sponsored by the Developmental Testing Service. It has undergone rigorous psychometric testing and reliably distinguishes 5 levels of intentional attention, which makes it useful for both classroom and research applications (see the references page). Dr. Solloway offers the SMS free to teachers and students. If you wish to use the SMS for research purposes, there is a small per-assessment fee. These fees are used to maintain and monitor the SMS. Contact us if you would like to use the SMS in a research project. The SMS interface includes:

Before you begin using the survey, please read the information provided below. If you are a teacher or researcher, be sure to read the teacher information page before you use the SMS.

Note: The SMS is not a cognitive developmental assessment. No one has been able to assess developmental level accurately with a survey.


  • Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness practice
  • Benefits of mindfulness
  • Measuring mindfulness
  • Teachers

ColumbineMindfulness can be described as paying attention to one's experience in the here and now. Observations are non-judgmental and unemotional. One simply observes and participates in the moment—seeing what is there without wanting something more or wishing that anything present would disappear.

fountainEveryone experiences moments of mindfulness. Think about a time when a sunrise, sunset or child’s face caught your attention. For a few moments, nothing else occupied your mind. You simply experienced the sensations of the moment. Remember how you felt? Like most people, you may have felt as if the usual stresses and anxieties of the day just dropped away, leaving you feeling more contented, peaceful, calm. This is sometimes called everyday mindfulness. Experiences like this can be cultivated through mindfulness practice.

 

BlossomsMindfulness practice is a discipline for cultivating more frequent mindful moments. Practitioners learn to "let go" of their reservations and fully attend to all sensations present in the here and now. This deep form of attention is sometimes called impartial witnessing.

Lady slipperAlthough the idea of being impartial may sound cold, it actually promotes the development of a more intimate relationship with experience, one in which you become increasingly willing to accept everything that arises in mind and body—just as it is.

The place of acceptance in mindfulness practice often requires explanation. It doesn’t imply passivity. Acceptance means participating in the moment without wanting it to be something else. Clearly observing experience without a cloud of judgment is sometimes referred to as radical acceptance. When necessary, acceptance can be followed with thought and action. In other words, the clear non-judgmental awareness cultivated in mindfulness practice can "uncloud" the mind, enhancing one's ability to make optimal choices and decisions.

pagodaRecent work in neuroscience confirms that attentional training actively contributes to permanent changes in brain structure (Begley, 2007; Davidson & Lutz, 2008). What you pay attention to stimulates growth in the associated area of your brain. Attention is a powerful brain changer.

A number of benefits have been associated with mindfulness practice, including:

Increased self-awareness, self-trust, and self-acceptance.
Enhanced appreciation of living.
Serenity in the face of difficulties.
Increased acceptance of change.
More effective strategies.
Decrease in many stress-related physical symptoms like chronic pain.
Decreases in anxiety and depression.
Improved concentration and creativity.
Improved immune system functioning.
Enhanced quality of communications and relationships.
Heightened awareness of thinking patterns and intentions.

 





Growth is often palpable—like noticing that the worn patch on your son’s jeans no longer matches where his knee was a few months ago. You don’t have to measure his height to know he has grown, but the availability of an instrument to provide that measure certainly brings valuable information to bear when selecting a pair of jeans with a better fit. The tape measure gives you access to more specific information about what you have noticed.

orange lilyIn the same way, as you begin to practice mindfulness, you will no doubt feel yourself growing in intentional attention. The mindfulness ruler is designed to provide more specific information about that growth.

verticalsTeachers who provide opportunities for their students to gain skill in mindfulness practice need to know how well the opportunities they provide work for each student. When they take a measurement at the beginning of the mindfulness training, that measure can be compared to a measurement at the end of the training. The results can not only inform improvements in classroom practices and mindfulness activities, they allow students to trace their own progress as mindfulness practitioners.

The goal of mindfulness practice is to increase the frequency of mindful moments. The SMS measures mindfulness practice along a continuum from beginning intentional attention, to increased intentional attention, to more continuous intentional attention. To take the SMS and view your results, register here.

winter berriesIf you teach mindfulness practice, you may be interested in tracking students' progress toward intentional attention. Journal entries that describe the student’s experience during mindfulness practice provide a rich window into that student’s progress toward intentional attention. It is also possible to corroborate the progress you see in journal entries with a quantitative measure—the SMS.

To use the SMS to monitor the development of intentional attention in your classrooms, you will need to register as an instructor and study the instructions for administering the assessment under the teachers tab in the menu above. If you are already registered as an instructor, sign in to view your class results.

Note: You may want to ask students to take the SMS before the onset of instruction, to establish a baseline.

Resources

Contemplative Mind in Society provides a number of useful links for educators.

Mindfulness in Education Network—All educators interested in mindfulness practice in the classroom are welcome. Offers updates on conferences, books, and articles focusing on mindfulness practice in the classroom.

Association for Mindfulness in Education—Offers fine networking opportunities for teachers interested in mindfulness practice both as a practice to enhance the quality of their own presence and/or teachers interested in offering their students opportunities to develop mindfulness practice in their own lives.