“On a recent Tuesday morning at Lafayette Elementary School in Northwest Washington, Sofia Parodi took a coveted seat at the head of the classroom and asked a fellow fourth-grader to switch off the lights.
“Close your eyes and take three deep breaths,” she instructed her classmates, who fell into a familiar rhythm of silently counting their breaths, then sharing their experience with their classmates.
Sofia was the day’s mindfulness helper, a temporary apprentice to Linda Ryden. Ryden is Lafayette’s peace teacher (yes, that’s her title), who leads about 500 of the school’s students in weekly courses on mindfulness — a practice aimed at enhancing self-awareness and reducing stress by focusing, without judgment, on the present moment.”
I have been writing about teaching kids and parents how to be mindful of stressful circumstances both at home, in school, and at play for 5 years now in this blog and through my books. Just the other day during a stressful meeting as a board member of Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon, we paused to be mindful as adults of the challenges facing us as community leaders.
Our teachers and mentors practice the same mindfulness exercises with our students each and every day. We do this to help all of us recognize that we are not alone in feeling the stressful aspects of life and the day to day challenges we all face together. The practice of “mindfulness stress reduction” really works and is catching on more and more in schools everywher
During my early life in school, we were silent about stress most of the time… It was an exhausting and lonely time for many post WWII and Korean War kids who lived in often toxic and violent circumstances at home.
Once in awhile there would be a teacher or mentor who paid special attention to those of us struggling with stress, and tried to help. For the most part we tried to keep a safe distance from the emotional pain because it was not generally understood during the Post WWII era. Consequently, and sadly, we moved on to adult life with all this bottled up emotional baggage that had to come out sooner or later…and it did in often tragic ways.
The good news…it is never to late to confront the baggage connected with post trauma circumstances, even after many years of denial or avoidance. It took me until age 64 to find my way to a path of healing by writing my first non-fiction memoir. There are many alternative strategies to practice mindfulness stress reduction. Writing and speaking about the subject has been a gift of peace of mind for me for the first time in my life.
Be kind to yourself and others and learn more about ways to reduce stress through the practice of mindfulness. I admit it is a work in progress, but has been very effective for so many who stick with it, especially children.
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story