Written by Vicki Samluk Land, a current Padua parent and class of 1988 alumna.
When Mr. Shelton sent an email to the parents of his Physics students, he explained that his students were learning how to incorporate Mindfulness into their classes. The goal is to have the students be more focused and to reduce their anxiety levels. My daughter, Robin, admits that it is difficult to turn off her brain and focus all of her energy solely on her breathing.
How does Mindfulness work? Neuroscientist Sara Lazar researched how practicing meditation and mindfulness over as little as a few weeks have improved parts of the auditory and sensory areas of the brain. Paying attention to your breathing allows you to be in the present moment, which helps you block out any worries or anxiety. Another benefit to mindfulness is that it helps your brain stay young by increasing the amount of grey matter in the frontal cortex.
During the early 2000s, I began attending a Baby and Me Support Group at the Eugene du Pont Preventive Medicine & Rehabilitation Institute at Pelleport. During that time, I had experienced postpartum depression and was feeling lost. This class taught me to put my life back into focus as my thoughts would rampantly jump from one topic to another. It was then that I started to begin to learn how to put myself first by quieting my thoughts.
Breathing is often taken for granted until we experience a cold or allergy that restricts our breathing. One well-known, simple breathing technique is the ‘4-7-8 Breath’ taught by Dr. Andrew Weil. The ‘4-7-8 Breath’ method is to inhale oxygen into your lungs for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat four times. By performing this exercise, you will feel a sense of clarity and be refreshed.
To me, Mindfulness is about being kind to yourself by silencing your inner critic and negative thoughts that hold you back from enjoying life. Mindfulness can lead you on a journey of personal growth and stability. By learning Mindfulness, Mr. Shelton’s students have a new tool to develop self-control, self-esteem, and self-acceptance throughout their lives.