Published on Oct. 22, 2020
DPC students explain how mindfulness has impacted their lives
By Claire Ramos
When senior Jiyla Thomas wakes up in the morning she starts her day off with mindfulness. Before zoom, she and her younger sister go downstairs where it’s quiet to relieve stress and leave her feeling serene.
“Sometimes you have days when you wake up feeling irritated or annoyed for no reason, so when I do [mindfulness] it brightens up my mood and I wonder, ‘why was I mad?’” Thomas said.
The idea of mindfulness is a primary focus of the Future Academy pathway classes. In DPA (Developmental Psychology of Adolescence) and in DPC (Developmental Psychology of Children) students engage in different meditation techniques, journaling, and yoga. Kay Zimmerman stresses the importance of personal awareness. This is taught through different activities, in an attempt to reach all students. All of the key pieces of these classes introduce the idea of mindfulness, which is the practice of being in tune with yourself, in addition to psychology.
Although these academy electives are not core classes, they can teach core values. Senior Eduardo Fraile said after learning to practice mindfulness in DPA, he began to integrate it into his own life. He explained that mindfulness can be different for everyone and he feels most mindful when he’s on a bike ride, listening to music, or in a quiet place where he can focus on his breath. He connected mindfulness to metacognition which Eduardo describes as, “thinking about your thinking.”
“Mindfulness is nothing without our intentions, [...] without our intention to better ourselves and grow, mindfulness is nothing.” Fraile said.
Teacher on Special Assignment for Restorative Practices (TSA), Becca Coleman explained that teaching mindfulness to students is important because it provides them with tools they can use throughout their lives whether its needing to ground themselves or regulate their emotions. Coleman acknowledged that research played a role in her teaching mindfulness to students as well. She had learned that mindfulness positively impacts brain development, increases attention span and ability to focus, improves memory, and learning.
“The most rewarding part of [teaching students mindfulness] is when I have seen students practicing mindfulness on their own. Of course I love leading them through mindfulness practices, but I love to see them doing it on their own because that’s always our hope as teachers, that the things we’re teaching students impact the rest of their lives.” Coleman said.
Mindfulness has helped senior Jiyla Thomas with forming new connections in her life. She explained how she became more outgoing and comfortable approaching new people after starting to engage in mindfulness in DPA. Her practicing mindfulness with her younger sister 2-3 times a week has helped them form a closer bond as well.
“I tend to keep my problem to myself and after a while that began to really affect me, now I have a person I feel like I can tell everything to,” Thomas said.“It helped me get out of my shell and realize that there’s other people that are having the same issues, and when we’re all doing the meditations together I feel really connected to everyone.”
When assignments become too much and she feels weighed down, senior Neha Giri uses mindfulness to maintain her focus and stay calm. Her favorite mindfulness techniques include: focusing on her breathing or on small details of objects; and listening to Tibetan singing bowls, zoning in.
“I have gotten better at coping with situations where I would otherwise have a harder time dealing with because now I’ve been given a wide variety of methods that I can use to calm myself down, and it allows me to assess the situation so that I don’t have to struggle.” Giri said. She explained that mindfulness is not always a quiet meditation sitting still, it can be listening to music, taking deep breaths, or at the very least, just taking the space to notice how you’re feeling.
“Even if you're someone who doesn’t like formal mindfulness techniques, there’s definitely something else that’s more engaging that could be for you, there’s a little bit there for everybody,” Giri said.
Many students connected mindfulness to feeling less stressed and more relaxed, especially related to school but, mindfulness can be used in any stressful situation.
Senior George Dones said practicing mindfulness has made him a calmer person. When he feels overwhelmed with anything in his life he is able to calm himself down and focus on one thing instead of focusing on everything. He noted how mindfulness can be used in other facets of life like public speaking, interviews, finances and anything that brings us stress.
Although these students explained that they have struggled with mindfulness at times, they all conferred that once they found a technique that worked for them, mindfulness was very effective. Whether it’s feeling connected to others, becoming more positive, being able to cope with their feelings, or developing more confidence, mindfulness has made a positive impact in all these students' lives.
“[ I would recommend mindfulness] 100 percent- actually, 1000 percent. It has made me a much more positive, less stressed person.” Fraile said. •