by Shannon Carr, Central Bucks West High School
In a world where distractions multiply due to the vibration of a text or a notification from Facebook, it becomes more and more important for kids to take time and focus on the present. Central Bucks West High School is taking measures into their own hands with a program called “mindfulness.”
According to Katherine Semisch, English teacher and active mindfulness participant at West, mindfulness is “paying attention, on purpose, without judgment, to what is happening now.”
It is based on a traditional, 2500-year secular practice. Last school year, 18 teachers, administrators, counselors, and nurses at West took time out of their schedules to meet for two hours on eight Thursday afternoons to be trained in mindfulness by Diane Reibel from Jefferson University thanks to a grant from Foundations Community Partnership.
Dr. Reibel cofounded the Stress Reduction Program at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine in 1996 and has taught mindfulness-based stress reduction programs for more than 16 years.
Also, she studies the effects of mindfulness on physical and psychological health.
During the training sessions, teachers at West took part in guided meditations and practiced mindfulness homework. All 18 participants chose to then do a two-day workshop called Learning To Breathe developed and led by Trish Broderick, a research associate at the Penn State Prevention Research Center and founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Center at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Teachers continued to use those techniques in class whenever they felt was necessary.
Many kids don’t understand the concept of mindfulness.