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Administration introduces mindfulness program

Opinions surrounding effectiveness circulate amongst staff and students

Kate Inge

Kate Inge

Kate Inge, Staff Reporter

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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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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Administration introduces mindfulness program”

  1. Mandy on October 23rd, 2017 12:53 PM

    I think that implementing mindfulness will be very beneficial to students in the long run. Kate Inge mentions that, “This new curriculum is a way to bring students tools to cope with expectations and stress.” These tools will be very important later in life. The earlier you learn how to cope with expectations and stress the more prepared you will be for the future. Inge goes on to write, “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.” When you have a more optimistic view of life and are able to take hold of your emotions in a productive way you will be better in the long run. These are important tools in life that many students do not learn until later. However by implementing mindfulness students get a head start on learning these important life tools which will benefit them in the long run, even if they think that mindfulness is silly now.

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  2. Graeme Hooper on October 23rd, 2017 9:09 PM

    I believe that the mindfulness program being implemented into DAM time is a very good step in the right direction in terms of cutting down on the stress and anxiety of Ballard students. I have noticed all around me a very high level of stress in the peers around me cause by things ranging from testing to pressure from school sports. These problems led me to believe that a move was needed to help promote profound thinking and learning while preventing stress and anxiety. Because of this, I strongly support the mindfulness program and the benefits that will ensue. Clearly there will be many students that will not see the value in the program or perhaps will not need the program, but it is still an important change that had to be made. I believe it will cause incredible positive changes for our student body in their stress levels and their level of thinking.

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  3. Savannah M on October 24th, 2017 7:46 AM

    I’m probably one of the most stressed out people you will ever meet. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I am definitely stressed out. That’s why I find the new mindfulness program at Ballard High School to be something very interesting, and hopefully very positive for the mental health of students. The new mindfulness program is a good idea; it promotes healthy patterns of thought, provides methods of coping with anxiety and stress, and helps people become more aware of themselves and their impact on others. Mental health is a very important issue in society today, and the new mindfulness program not only brings light to this important issue, but also can help with anxiety and stress, and is “a turning point for high school mental health,” as the first paragraph of the article states. While taking time from DAM Time to do the activities is frustrating sometimes–as many students have too many assignments and too little time–I think that by taking 10 minutes from DAM Time each week to teach students how to “cope with expectations and stress” (paragraph 3), the school can help promote healthy minds, which will be very beneficial for many students in the long run. 10 minutes a week is nothing in comparison to the benefits mindfulness has and I am willing to do it–and that’s coming from someone who’s taking too many AP classes and really doesn’t have much time to spare. By taking time to learn how to be more aware of our impact on others, and how to deal with stress and anxiety, we can be healthier, happier students–and we’ll probably be more productive too, so those “lost” 10 minutes will likely have us getting more done than if we just do regular Phone-I mean DAM Time, in the end.

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  4. iAN cROCKER on October 24th, 2017 9:12 AM

    I thought this was a solid article that shed a lot of light onto mindfulness. Before reading this article, I had no idea how or why mindfulness started, but after learning it had to do with suicide prevention i have a much different view on it. I now don’t take it lightly and blow it off, instead I will embrace it and see what i can get out of it. I also like that you guys included that it wasn’t only about coping with stress, but it had to do with your effect on others. I think everyone could use a lesson on that.

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Administration introduces mindfulness program