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Richard Burnett – Mindfulness In Schools

Richard Burnett – Mindfulness In Schools

Richard Burnett is co-founder and director of Mindfulness in Schools. Richard co-created the highly-acclaimed 10 week mindfulness course, .b designed to engage adolescents in the classroom. He is a teacher and boarding Housemaster at Tonbridge School, the first school in the UK to put mindfulness on the curriculum, an event covered by press, TV and radio in early 2010. Thousands of young people have been taught .b in a wide range of educational contexts in the UK, USA, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Thailand and Mexico.

In this interview, Richard reveals how mindfulness is being rolled out in schools and how children are learning to using it better handle stress, learn more effectively and enjoy their lives more. In this video, you’ll also experience a wonderful mindfulness practice called ‘play attention’ that is great for teaching to children and teens.

In the second video, Kaira Jewel Lingo, guides a ‘pebble meditation’ which is wonderful for both children and adults. Enjoy her beautiful song at the end!

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Show Notes

Join The Mindfulness Summit Journey here

Come and join the community discussions at any time on our Facebook page

Check out Melli’s blog, events and retreats at MrsMindfulness.com

You can find about more about .b here and also the mindfulness for primary school age children paws b here

You might also be interested to check out…
This youtube video of a talk Kaira gave on Cultivating Joy and Happiness

The book, Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children, also has an audio recording of me leading pebble meditation and includes cards that kids can cut out and use to guide their practice in pebble meditation.

Here’s a book, A Handful of Quiet, that is a book for children and adults that focuses exclusively on the practice of pebble meditation.




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Purchase a full access pass to unlock downloads for the full interview transcripts, audio, video and separate audio meditation tracks.

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118 Responses

  1. Len Moskowitz

    Richard expresses (at around 7:20) his sense that secular mindfulness may be becoming impoverished by removing the religious (presumably Buddhist) and cultural (also presumably Buddhist) associations, and expresses his passionate desire to perhaps restore that.

    Melli closes the program by offering bows to Richard.

    It’s clear that for both of them, mindfulness is deeply connected to Buddhism, and that they feel it loses a lot by severing its connections to Buddhism.

    I note that the logo for the Mindfulness Summit is a lotus – yet another Buddhist association.

    We can all see that truly secular mindfulness isn’t here yet, and it’ll take longer to drop all the Buddhism. I call it (with great respect) “ditching the Dharma.”

    1. Bill Paterson

      Hi Len, I’ve just completed my .b training. I have NHS training in delivering Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy which I have been delivering for over a year. Both of these organizations explain that mindfulness is secular but both acknowledge their Buddhist roots. MBCT talks of mindfulness as a psychological interventions, and .b takes a lot from MBCT but does not claim to be a psychological intervention – but it must be. MBCT specifically does not integrate a session on compassion because it is argued that compassion belongs to Buddhism (and the possibility of initiating responses to previous trauma).
      For some people this secular interpretation of mindfulness works. For others, mindfulness introduces a form of spiritualism, not necessarily any particular religion (the founders of .b are openly Jewish and Christian). Bowing to another person is not akin to practicing Buddhism or any religion but really a demonstration of respect for the worth or potential of that person. The lotus flower is a symbol of the potential of all human beings to flower out of the murky emotional states they live within, if only they could accept them. This is symbol is not like the crucifix or the star of david etc. These are very different. Different people will take different things out of mindfulness, and after practicing mindfulness for over 5 years and having taught mindfulness for over a year I have not had any conversions to Buddhism or any other religion. Fear of religious indoctrination is good but I’m not sure that .b is guilty of this. Namaste 😉

    2. Hi Len,

      I find your comment and the term “ditching the Dharma” very interesting. I am working on a curriculum to use in a retreat I plan to do next year. As I work on it, my husband keeps telling me that I need to make it more secular. Although I’m not trained in Buddhist philosophy, I connect with it and incorporate it into my private practice. I would be interested to hear more of your ideas about this. If you would like to connect, you can email me at susan@findingmidlifepurpose.com or click on my picture to go to my website.

      I would appreciate any input you could give me.

      Thanks so much,

      1. Tushar Mankad

        Hello Susan,
        You might want to consider Stephen Batchelor’s book, Buddhism Without Beliefs, A Contemporary Guide to Awakening.
        Perhaps it could help with the curriculum.
        Tushar Mankad

    3. Jim Bright

      I haven’t heard this talk yet, but I think the summit as a whole has shown a very good range of perspectives and ideas. Personally I am very much in the Sam Harris camp, and am interested in the neurosciences and secular training of mindfulness. However much can be learned from the Buddhist teachings and indeed older teachings, as Melli commented with a speaker on one of the other talks, mindfulness predates Buddhism by many years. Each speaker has their own ideas and what I like about this summit is there is something for everyone 🙂

    4. Caz Sheldon

      I think: be careful of ‘ditching the Dharma’. The word dharma means truth, and I feel that truth-seeking is basic to mindfulness, to knowing, or remembering, or discovering what is true. For example, that my mind is full of constructions and fantasies and projections, this I know to be true. That I can experience more by paying attention, this I know to is true. That things don’t last, this I know to be true. That I can suffer less by how I experience things ( or more), this I know to be true. All these kinds of knowing are dharma. Sure there is much more in the Bhuddha’s teachings, including the invitation to find out for ourselves, and not take anyone’s words as gospel, including the Buddhist teachings themselves. How much more ‘secular’ can one be?

      1. Jim Bright

        Indeed Caz. And I know of a Buddhist monk (Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu) who I discovered on Youtube in a series on how to meditate some time back, who even talks about practicing meditation “without the requirement of religious dogma or spiritual mumbo-jumbo”, and that’s a Buddhist monk !

  2. Chrisy

    Brilliant: I’m so hopeful for the world with people like Richard Burnett in it. All our young people deserve the tool of mindfulness taught by trained people such as those who go through the .b training. It was a pleasure to watch this. Thank you to you all.

  3. virginia huber

    This has been a month like no other month in my life. Some days I’ve logged on in the middle of the night. I’ve appreciated that the same representative has responded to my emails. What a gift you are giving to the world!
    You urged meditating twice a day in order to learn what time of day or evening works best. I learned that meditating twice a day works best for me with short, one minute moments when under stress. I’ll take that practice on in life. Many thanks.

  4. Pat McCutcheon

    For several years I have been using mindfulness in the classroom although I have had no formal training. Students in all classes quiet themselves because they are so grateful to finally have a quiet moment. Only 20 seconds worth and sometimes they remain in the quiet mode even after the time has run out. They really are grateful for this time designed especially for them.– I start with a small singing bowl and let the students know that from a Harvard study, there are any where from 60 to 150,000 thoughts that traffic through their minds each day. And most of those thoughts are stress filled. How to be in the driver’s seat is to let those thoughts go or be in the background. Then I ask the students to take a deep breathe in happiness and release with smiles. This from Thich Naht Hahn. The second breath is another deep breath with a baby breath on top. I count to 4 up and back 4 times and then release. Final breath is like the first. This is calming. Then I ask the students to be out of their minds and into their hearts with gratitude. And if they have nothing to be grateful for they can be grateful for their breath. Because if they remembered to brush their teeth this morning but forgot to breathe they might not be here. This brings up a laugh. They are familiar with this. Then for 20 seconds I play my singing bowl. It is in F# for the heart center. — I am a substitute teacher and work at the high school level.
    The students are awesome and truly make my day.

    1. Diane Rosen

      Beautiful. I taught for 21 years. Your students are so fortunate to be part of this experience. Your gift to them. it will last a lifetime. Believe me, they will remember.

  5. Christine Evans

    Those children should consider themselves blessed to have mindfulness practice available. It would have made a huge difference in my life at a young age! Embrace it for all its worth!

    1. G Dell

      Absolutely agree! This was the first of the longer meditations that really resonated with me. Also loved listening to Kaira-she has a very calming and comforting presence.

  6. Joanne Cartabona

    I found the pebble meditation absolutely beautiful. I wonder with what ages this practice is used. How young? The song at the end is also beautiful. As a former preschool teacher, I can imagine my young students loving this, especially with the hand movements. Is the song a part of the books that were recommended?

  7. Jose

    I just loved Kaira’s meditation and song and I totally agree with Richard, this Mindfulness Summit will create ripple effects in the world. Thank you Melli for your vision and hard-work!

  8. Rosann Lampkin

    Hello Melli! Unfortunately, I too am experiencing technological difficulties these past few days. The interviews freeze up early on (after about a minute or so of viewing) and, although I have downloaded many of the other speakers, I can no longer do so (this difficulty began 10/25)… any ideas on what I can do to access these incredible talks? As I initially had no problem with the speakers and downloading of them, I know what I am missing!! Thanks so much– such an incredible service you are providing for the world!! Rosann

  9. Darren

    “In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are same. So if you’re not hearing mindfulness in some deep way as heartfulness, you’re not really understanding it. Compassion and kindness towards oneself are intrinsically woven into it. You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.”

    ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

    We woke up this morning to a news-story in North America, that demonstrates the need for mindfulness in schools, not for students, but for those in power over them. Caution: this might push buttons inside. It should push buttons, and we should by now know, with daily practice the human mind and human emotion can be dealt with in magical ways. The school in this video could use some help.

    Teachers and Administrative Staff in Schools around the world: Mindfulness alone can provide the help needed to make our schools again, an extension of sanctuary.

    Again, caution with this clip: I want to see mindfulness in all our North American Schools come to life.


    Be Well.

  10. Mike Phelan

    Interesting comments above…. a reminder to me that “Mind Training” Is a sensitive subject….handling the topic/terms with extra care can only help be inclusive and of value to a wide and diverse audience…..nice to see the summit and presenters be “mindful” about “mindfulness” and associated sensitivities.

    On a different note, the growing attention from scientists and resulting positive research is impressive. Oxford now studying 6,000 kids in the UK and the effects of “Mindfulness” training…fabulous!

  11. Jean Enright

    Hello Melli, A question for our question day: Several friends have told me they don’t practice medication because they cannot follow the breathing. One has asthma, the other person has COPD. What would teachers say to this?
    Thanks for all the wonderful speakers and your work in organizing the summit. I am already sad that it will be ending- I know, everything changes. And I will have the sessions to,play over again since I bought the package. Congrats on a wonderful life giving project.

  12. Jess

    Thank you so much Kaira Jewel Lingo and Melli. I enjoyed Kairas meditation, though the bell sound jumped me a few times while trying to meditate. Does this go ease after practice and not be noticeable? I have been have sleep issues lately along with increased stress but finding I am coping better with meditation. Learning as I go along. Thank you so much again Melli and Kaira, I do feel this meditation is good for our inner child. It made me smile and feel calmer. Thank you. Namaste <3 x

  13. Nina Gimond

    It was delightful to see Kaira Jewel Lingo again, whom I knew as Sister Jewel a year ago when we attended the same 3 month retreat in Barre, Massachutsetts, while she was still in robes. It is a joy to hear her sing, which I am so glad she included in her guided meditation. This unexpected and lovely encounter has made my day!

  14. Jo-Anna Roberts

    Thank you so much for today (and every day!). It is so encouraging to hear about mindfulness in schools and with children. I loved the practices in both. I will pass on links to friends with children.

  15. Eric Oostdijk

    I felt really Lucky to hear Richard share his story and wisdom today during his talk about the .b-program. Trained as a .b-trainer in Amsterdam and as a .b-Foundations trainer in London, I feel humble to share these teachings with my students in Holland.
    As one of my students expressed himself last week after some small breathing-exercise : “This touches my heart and soul and normally teachers are not working that deep…’
    So…A deep bow for you Richard!

    Metta for all you out there who are working with mindfulness in places where teens grow up!

    May our practice be of benefit!

    Eric Oostdijk


  16. Sara

    Being a teacher that wants to bring mindfulness to my school, I found myself a bit discourage in this talk before the exercise when he discussed the issues with teachers delivering without training but hope was once again instilled at the end. Thank you.

  17. Rose Chan

    Great talk from Richard and sharing that having student leads practice is important. I am so happy that schools in Hong Kong, mostly Catholic schools have incorporated mindfulness to help students, teachers and parents and they are student lead. So wonderfully reminded by Kaira Jewel to offer such beautiful practice , I met her in plum village retreats and she looks so beautiful always with such glowing skin. In deep gratitude

  18. Steven Dietrich

    If you are interested in a new meditation practice, I just launced Mettatations which combines Positive Psychology and meditation along with the power of touch, movement, and breath work. Thanks Melli for the great summit!

  19. Shantelle Bates

    Thank you for a wonderful session today, and the opportunity to learn about mindfulness entering into schools. While listening and learning, I became more aware of what the world from the perspective of a child must look like, it must seem awfully daunting at times. Any process that can help them to have more clarity, more peace of mind, can only be a benefit, not only in the now but for the future. I’m glad to have the information and the awareness raised from today, in order to help them, and others, be the people they need to be.
    Thanks again.
    The practice was very refreshing and look forward to tomorrow’s session

  20. Diana Jackon

    Thoroughly enjoyed listening to Richard & the meditation will stay with me. Very special people indeed but, of course, this summit has involved many special people. I thank you all

  21. Maria Ligia+Conti

    Thank you so much. all the talks are just fascinating. I wish we still had more three or four weeks to go. One comment I would like to make – a suggestion maybe. I don’t know how this would work, but if you could have captions in one other language, if not Portuguese, at least Spanish, it would be fantastic. There are so many people I would like to share this Summit with – but they would not understand, for they don’t speak English. Maybe for Summit, 2016 we could have that? Nevertheless, I am in love with the whole Project. Congratulations Melli, and thank you very much.

  22. Carmen Pereira

    I haven’t had time yet to go through the meditation. I will later. I want to thank Richard and Melli for a very interesting discussion. I was wondering if any teacher credentialing programs are looking into incorporating mindfulness training into teacher training? It would be great to send out newly credentialed teachers with mindfulness already a part of their personal lives as well as knowing how to impart mindfulness to students.

    Thanks, again.

  23. Helena Saray

    Thank you to Richard Burnett, great conversation! What a wonderful accomplishments in the educational system. Fantastic!

    Question 1: What happens when that child goes back home to mindless parents or siblings? Do their mindfulness skills learned in classroom helps the child to deal with those type of situations or does the child revert back to the dysfunction of the family? What about mindful Parenting? so children learn it at home first at a young age and then in school as they grow with their education?

    Question 2: What do you think of “home schooling”? (We have that here in the US).

    Richard or Melli or anyone who care to comment. Thank you so much!

  24. Frank Campbell

    Small technical suggestions: 1- notice that guests who use a lip mike (such as Melli’s) can be heard much better than those who use remote mikes. Reverberation in the room can distort the sound reaching a remote mike. 2- Video freeze is generally due to band width constraints. Suggest using a direct Ethernet hookup if possible. When using WiFi limit the number of devices accessing the same signal, i.e. turn off your cellphone WiFi feature, etc.
    Kudos for a superb mindfulness series.

  25. ani colville

    Dear Melli Richard and Kiara, wonderful day and wonderful to see Kiara again as I have also been lucky enough to be with her on retreat with Thay, I told all my telephone sangha you were on so a lot more will be tuning in,

    a deep bow to you all


  26. Emily Hanlon

    Mel, yet again a wonderful session, kiera has amazing presence, I have learnt so much I dont like to think of the summit coming to an end, like the saying goes..all good and wonderful things come to and end, thanks again Mel for all you hard work, I will continue on my journey of meditation, greetings and love comes your way xx Emily from Ireland

  27. Lisa Martin

    The practice was lovely. So peaceful and gentle. I was immediately relaxed and in that “place”. I kept finding myself smiling with contentment. Love the simplicity of it. I will use this one often.

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