What are Executive Functions?
While there is no formal definition of executive functions, it is an umbrella term for various complex processes in the brain that together orchestrate such functions such as organizing, planning, decision-making,self-control, the ability to shift attention, time management, memory of details and so on.
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In his book, The Mindful Brain, Daniel J. Siegel, Director of the Mindsight Institute,Co-Director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center provides the following description:
Mindfulness in its most general sense is about waking up from a life on automatic, and being sensitive to novelty in our everyday experiences. With mindful awareness the flow of energy and information that is our mind enters our conscious attention and we can both appreciate its contents and come to regulate its flow in a new way. Mindful awareness, as we will see, actually involves more than just simply being aware: It involves being aware of aspects of the mind itself. Instead of being on automatic and mindless, mindfulness helps us awaken, and by reflecting on the mind we are enabled to make choices and thus change becomes possible.
Being mindful is not only being aware, it is being aware of awareness. It is approaching the present experience with a reflective awareness including the qualities of curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love. http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/teachers-guide/
"While there are many definitions of mindfulness, the definition I use with children and adolescents is: Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity. One of the primary ironies of modern education is that we ask students to “pay attention” dozens of times a day, yet we never teach them how.The practice of mindfulness teaches students how to pay attention, and this way of paying attention enhances both academic and social-emotional learning.”
“Mindfulness training emphasizes focused attention to internal and external experiences in the present moment and time without judgment.”
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Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel Segal; http://www.amazon.com/Mindsight-New-Science-Personal-Transformation/dp/0553386395/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384610448&sr=1-1&keywords=dan+siegel
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercisesfor Kids (and their Parents) byEline Snel, Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn; http://www.amazon.com/Sitting-Still-Like-Frog-Mindfulness/dp/1611800587/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384610200&sr=1-15&keywords=mindfulness
Mindful awareness training develops concentration and regulation of attention thereby contributing to improved executive functioning processes. Mindfulness enables the individual to develop the emotional regulation to manage and carry out executive functions most effectively. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ880516