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Administration introduces mindfulness program

Opinions surrounding effectiveness circulate amongst staff and students

Kate Inge, Staff Reporter
Originally published October 19, 2017

Kate Inge

Kate Inge

To allow students the chance to learn ways to cope with stress and to gain better self awareness, the school brought a new aspect to DAM Time. Having proven its effectiveness in six other Metro high schools, mindfulness in education is a turning point for high school mental health.

Meditation is far from sitting cross legged on a rock, chanting ‘OM’ and having your hands on your knees. It can be as simple as taking three breaths before taking a test or penalty kick, or going to bed.
Assistant Principal Carrie Burr first introduced the idea to the DAM Time committee. “The more I got into the mindfulness the more I realized how many students last year I saw had anxiety issues,” Burr said. This new curriculum is a way to bring students tools to cope with expectations and stress.

Roosevelt took action after the devastating suicides last year, wanting to spread goals of a healthy mind. “Our communities are so similar,” Burr said, “and if it happens to Roosevelt it might as well happen at Ballard.” Roosevelt is now continuing onto their second year and sharing what they’ve learned with other Metro schools.

Mindfulness Instructor Ann Hollar worked with schools throughout the Seattle Area giving insight on the positive effects mindfulness can have on young adults. “Be curious for a little bit and see what you find for yourself,” Hollar said. She hopes to break preconceived misconceptions about meditation and awareness through her program.

Hollar strives to hit points on stress, anxiety and emotions and to allow students a safe place to keep an open mind.

“Things happen that you can’t control,” Hollar said. “Things happen, but what you can control is your response to those things.” How you react to everyday occurrences is a part of what students are told to take notice of. Emotions through those everyday responses heavily impact what ways you view your life.
According to the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley Univeristy, “an increasing number of studies have shown the potential benefits of mindfulness practices for students’ physical health, psychological well-being, social skills, academic performance, and more.” The exercises and meaning behind Hollar’s work has been around for centuries, combining meditation and neuroscience.

Even if everyone is on board, the exercises won’t be for every student. Freshman Kristiane Maynard hopes that it will help her stress levels but finds it an unproductive way to spend her time. “Everyone has their own way to cope with their stress,” Maynard said, “so not everyone will like this idea but I feel like a lot of people will.” Being open to meditation and DAM Time has helped her stay optimistic about getting out of her comfort zone.

Mindfulness isn’t always about stress and coping with anxiety, it’s also about becoming aware of your effect on others. In a world that is constantly criticizing the next person, learning to be more open to others is only a small thing students can learn about.

“We miss out on meeting somebody that could be super cool because we quickly judge them, or we get in our head and quickly judge ourselves ‘not good enough’, ‘not able to do it’ ‘I can’t do that,’ ‘I won’t try out for that,’’’ Hollar said.

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Administration introduces mindfulness program