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Meditation provides a ‘mindful moment’ for students after a stressful morning

Students+in+Ms.+Johnson%E2%80%99s+AP+Lit+class+participate+in+a+%E2%80%98mindful+moment%E2%80%99+at+the+beginning+of+class.+%E2%80%9CI+thought+it+might+be+a+little+weird%2C+because+I%E2%80%99m+not+a+person+who+likes+to+meditate%2C+I+would+never+choose+to%2C+but+as+it+continued+I+just+like+that+it%E2%80%99s+a+moment+where+you+don%27t+really+have+to+worry+about+anything%2C%E2%80%9D+said+Violet+McMahon%2C+a+junior+in+Johnson%E2%80%99s+4th+hour+AP+Lit+class.+
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Meditation provides a ‘mindful moment’ for students after a stressful morning

Students in Ms. Johnson’s AP Lit class participate in a ‘mindful moment’ at the beginning of class. “I thought it might be a little weird, because I’m not a person who likes to meditate, I would never choose to, but as it continued I just like that it’s a moment where you don't really have to worry about anything,” said Violet McMahon, a junior in Johnson’s 4th hour AP Lit class.

Students in Ms. Johnson’s AP Lit class participate in a ‘mindful moment’ at the beginning of class. “I thought it might be a little weird, because I’m not a person who likes to meditate, I would never choose to, but as it continued I just like that it’s a moment where you don't really have to worry about anything,” said Violet McMahon, a junior in Johnson’s 4th hour AP Lit class.

Erika Peterson

Students in Ms. Johnson’s AP Lit class participate in a ‘mindful moment’ at the beginning of class. “I thought it might be a little weird, because I’m not a person who likes to meditate, I would never choose to, but as it continued I just like that it’s a moment where you don't really have to worry about anything,” said Violet McMahon, a junior in Johnson’s 4th hour AP Lit class.

Erika Peterson

Erika Peterson

Students in Ms. Johnson’s AP Lit class participate in a ‘mindful moment’ at the beginning of class. “I thought it might be a little weird, because I’m not a person who likes to meditate, I would never choose to, but as it continued I just like that it’s a moment where you don't really have to worry about anything,” said Violet McMahon, a junior in Johnson’s 4th hour AP Lit class.

By Erika Peterson, South High School

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English teacher Elizabeth Johnson has recently started doing a ‘mindful moment’ during the first five minutes of her afternoon classes to promote mindfulness and allow students to calm down. Johnson uses the Headspace app to guide the class through meditation, an app she started using herself and later introduced to her students. She has been using this in her classes for around 3 weeks.

“Headspace is an app that walks you through and kind of teaches you how to do various guided meditations…Once you pay for a subscription it unlocks all these different services, and you choose guided meditations that focus on different areas of your life,” said Johnson. “Sometimes it’ll be focusing on visualizing something, or like a body scan or something like that, focusing on being in the moment, being present, breathing.”

Johnson got the widget on her Promethean board, and at the beginning of the hour they go through and choose a guided meditation together. As a class, they also completed a training about the basics of meditation before starting.

The app was created by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist Monk. Puddicombe travelled around the world for over 10 years, and after being ordained at a monastery, decided to return to the UK to spread mindfulness. According to the Headspace website, “Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. And with millions of users in more than 190 countries, we’re well on our way.”

Initially, Johnson got the app for herself as an initiative for her healthcare, but after completing the free trial she decided to continue the subscription. “I really liked it, and was feeling like I really benefited from it, so then I paid for it.”

Johnson continued using it for herself for several weeks, until one day when she noticed a particularly hectic afternoon class. “I was just like, ‘everything is moving really quickly and everyone’s really excited, and it’s just feeling really hard for me to focus, I bet it’s feeling really hard for my students to focus right now too.’” She asked her class if they would like to try using Headspace, and they decided to try it for a week and then see how people felt about continuing with it.

“We did it every day for a week, and they took the survey, and overwhelmingly, students said …that they were doing it and that they felt better,” said Johnson.“They got to define ‘better’ however they wanted to, and we’ve been doing it ever since.”

Although many were reluctant to meditate at first, students have come to enjoy having a ‘mindful moment.’ “I thought it might be a little weird, because I’m not a person who likes to meditate, I would never choose to, but as it continued I just like that it’s a moment where you don’t really have to worry about anything,” said Violet McMahon, a junior in Johnson’s 4th hour AP Lit class. “I appreciate that everybody is really quiet for it. I think that most people are joining in on it, and also feel similarly to me, but …if they’re not, they’re doing a good job of keeping quiet so that other people can.”

Jordan Dotson, a junior in Johnson’s 7th hour, also enjoys the meditation. “At first I was really confused, because…I don’t meditate usually…But I’ve come to really enjoy it a lot, it’s a good part of my day. Especially at the end of the day when I’ve had all of my bad classes, I like to just like chill when we meditate.”

Although spending time on meditation takes up class time, Johnson feels it has been a positive change. “[In the afternoon], you have all your thoughts from the day, and schools just move at a really quick pace, I think, and so giving students a chance to just stop, and gather their thoughts, but also clear their heads, and breathe, and focus, I think has been a pretty positive experience in my class,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of like a give and take, so I’m giving up 5 minutes of class time, which is like 10%, but I do feel like what I’m getting for the other 40 minutes is worth the trade off.”

While most other classes at South do not practice mindfulness in the same ways that Johnson’s classes do, she has noticed its growing popularity in education worldwide. “There’s kind of a movement in the world right now, for using mindfulness in education, for focus and productivity but also for things like helping students deal with their emotions,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if anyone is doing it here at South…but it is a thing that’s out there in the world.”

This story was originally published on South High School on April 18, 2019.

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