Written by 2019 Padua Alumna Ally Dorsey
Walking into Room 406 on my first day as a Padua senior, I was initially very intimidated by AP Physics. AP Physics? What was I thinking? I found a seat and remember feeling overwhelmed by the sight of written on the board.
Mr. Shelton proceeded to explain the course structure, but more importantly, how we were going to start each class with 3 minutes of meditation. I was now thinking AP Physics: one of the best decisions I’ve made. I had heard of meditation and mindfulness, tried it here and there using different apps on my phone, but never was able to dedicate the time or energy to it because, I now know, I wasn’t doing it properly. I was too focused on my wandering thoughts, the notifications on my phone, and the idea of ‘meditating correctly.’
My struggle with anxiety began freshman year of high school. I remember times when I should have been thinking about softball practice or what movie to see on Friday, but my mind was preoccupied with all the “what ifs.” I was convinced I wasn’t good enough, I was going to fail anything I tried, and that people would judge me for the way my mind worked. I decided I was strong enough to overcome these feelings on my own. Or so I thought, as a naive fifteen-year-old.
When the struggle of fighting these thoughts became too overwhelming towards the end of freshman year, I told my parents, who were more understanding than anyone can imagine. With their help, I knew I wasn’t alone. I tried a variety of different techniques and practices to “cure” my mental troubles. Chiropractic care was the one thing that year that helped me put a physical bandage on an injury no one could see. I felt so much better and continued with weekly adjustments.
But, it wasn’t until senior year that I found a true release in stress, anxiety, and a boost in confidence through meditation. Mr. Shelton created a safe place where we learned how to meditate and had time dedicated to clearing our minds and focusing on the present moment. He made our mental health and well-being a priority opening each and every class with a pause in our day. He emphasized the importance of simply being present and recalling our minds back when they began to wander, not getting upset with ourselves when it happened. (And especially, disconnecting from technology to connect with our minds and selves.) I truly saw a huge improvement in my mood and confidence as well as a decrease in my anxious thoughts.
Since graduation in May, it has been more difficult to dedicate the time and energy to meditation, but my 2020 resolution has been to get back in a routine of mindfulness after seeing the blog posts from other Padua women. I have seen the same positive effects I was receiving from the practice as I did during my time at Padua. I look forward to continuing the practice throughout the rest of my time at Villanova and into my future career as a nurse, hopefully teaching patients about the numerous advantages that accompany meditation. I am beyond blessed to have had Mr. Shelton as my AP Physics teacher because that’s where I learned to meditate. I highly encourage high school students, especially the young women at Padua, to take advantage of the time dedicated to meditation during and after school. Learning the practice early has so many benefits, and I hope each student has a similar experience as I did in 406. Thanks to meditation, my mental health and overall well-being are in a positive place, and I know what to do if any difficulties return.