Exploring How Mindfulness Meditation Is Helping High School Students Align Their Lives With Truth And Love
Author: Ryan Shelton
While my job description is to lead the science department and teach physics at Padua Academy in Wilmington, DE, my calling is to prepare teenagers to lead their communities towards a vibrant and healthy future. This purpose has lead to the creation of Loving Lives Delaware.
Before becoming a teacher, I explored many careers and had many adventures in search of the best way to make a difference in the world. I hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, and SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef.
My next adventure is starting a family with my beautiful wife in our Wilmington home. I'm sure there will be many mistakes along the way, but I hope we're able to create a loving household that's a beacon of support and clarity for others in our community. Thank you for all of your support throughout our journey.
As high school students, we can be stressed over all the challenging obstacles we face in today’s world. We’re trying to balance school work, sports, extracurriculars, maybe a part time job, and sometimes just trying to hang out with our friends can become stressful. Entering my junior year all these thoughts ran through my head constantly and worried me for the year ahead. As I continued through my junior year, I found my stress reliever. Meditation.
I started my meditation journey in Mr. Shelton’s classroom on the first day of Physics. I was very skeptical in attempting meditation because I genuinely did not think it would work for me. As I continued to participate in meditation in the beginning of class, I did not realize how much 3 minutes can affect my mental and physical being. For those 3 minutes I am taken to a different place where all my worries float away and I am brought to a state of serenity. I physically become less tense and feel the weight start to lift off my shoulders. After taking time to meditate, I am able to reflect on everything going on and plan my next steps effectively.
Meditation has become a part of my daily process to help my anxiety, worries, and stress. I am typically a very anxious person who constantly overreacts about the littlest things. I now am able to take a moment in my day to stop, focus on my breathing, and let all my concerns dissolve away. However, when there is a lot on my mind it can be hard to concentrate on my meditation, but if I really focus, I am still able to meditate and the benefits outweigh the difficulties.
After just a few short months of practicing meditation, I have learned a new technique to use when I am feeling overwhelmed. Coming from someone who has never meditated before, I am eternally thankful that I have had an opportunity to experience meditation. If you feel like a million things are running through your mind and you need a moment of clarity, I would highly recommend giving meditation a chance.
Written by Padua Academy World Languages Teacher Susan Burris
I don’t think anyone who knows me would describe me as ‘calm.’ I feel my emotions (all of them) in extremes and I always have. At almost 40 years old, I’ve finally embraced this about myself, and practicing mindfulness has helped.
I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression since I was a student. In my early adult life I struggled with finding a balance in my life; anxiety seemed to always take over. Talk therapy helped me manage my feelings and emotions, but the anxiety and depression was always there under the surface (and many times breaking through and disrupting my life). Sometimes I felt hopeless that I would never be free from the highs and the lows. I wanted to find more peace with myself and maybe that would help me understand my anxiety and depression better.
When Ryan Shelton offered the mindfulness sessions after school at Padua I signed up. On the first day, despite distractions and deadlines, I showed up. I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me, but I was hopeful. Truthfully, I did not know very much about meditation. In my ignorance I pictured a wizened soul sitting silently and zoning out, with maybe some chanting thrown in for good measure. I don’t do sitting still, or silence. I’m boisterous and I love to talk and laugh. Reverence is not a skill I have developed despite years (DECADES) of learning and working in Catholic schools.
At our first meeting we were joined by Shannon Ayres. Shannon is an Air Force veteran and licensed counselor specializing in PTSD, who also teaches Mindfulness Meditation to school teachers. Shannon began our meeting talking about the types of meditation. I was shocked that you don’t have to sit silently; sometimes you can move or walk. There can be music or silence. You might like guided meditation with someone gently leading you, or maybe you simply count your breaths in and out. Shannon also pointed out to us that many of our most familiar Catholic saints’ writings and prayers are really talking about being mindful with God. Over the next few weeks, I continued to show up to the meetings. I even started to do some meditation at home using YouTube videos. I listened to parts of Teresa of Avila’s autobiography too (they’re available in English on YouTube). This Doctor of the Catholic Church talks about her own struggles to find peace in herself. In addition, I downloaded the Calm app so I could practice at home. This year I used some of the Calm app sessions with my students before midterm exams. The feedback was good! Students liked 3-5 minutes to settle themselves before class began. I liked that too!
My favorite part of learning to be more mindful is that you don’t have to ever master the practice. Imperfection is almost required. There are days I will be really good and stay focused the whole time (woo hoo Mindful Master!). Other days I just have to keep coming back to the breath resetting myself over and over. Isn’t that just like life? Some days we have it all together. Other days we’re thrown a curveball and get off track. We rush and we hurry through things that require patience. Emotions and situations can be all over the place and make us feel out of control.
I’m confident that my mindfulness practice has helped me accept myself just how I am. I’m learning to be gentle with my imperfections. I understand my students’ needs better, and I’m more present with my family. When I feel anxiety or depression creeping in, instead of denying them and pushing my feelings away, I start breathing. I give my emotions more space now. I think about what I’m feeling and why, breathe, make a change if I need to, and move on. Sometimes, I just breathe and I don’t do very much investigating at all. I’m not perfect, nor is my mindfulness practice. What is different, is now I know and accept that in my everyday life, and practice, I only need to bring myself back to the breath, re-set, and try again.
When I first heard that I would be meditating in my physics class, I had no interest in participating. When my mom asked about it, I told her that I didn’t really care about it and wasn’t going to try to understand what it was all about. I even told my friends how much I was dreading going to class. However, when my physics class and I meditated for the first time I actually really enjoyed it. After that class, we continued to meditate and I began to actually take an interest in meditation. I started going to some of the after school sessions that were longer than the ones in class.
Every time I meditate in class, I’m able to shut off the the rest of my worries and just focus on what is present around me. I am someone who stresses about everything and overfocuses on every little detail going on in my life. I’m usually a very busy person and I’m always thinking about what I have to do next and how many things need to be done in the week. Meditation allows me to shut out those worries and concentrate on my breath. I really feel a sense of peace when I sit down to meditate. Lately when I’m at home and my life starts to feel hectic and rushed, I just sit down and start meditating for a couple of minutes. It helps me to organize my thoughts, and then afterwards, I know what is important and what I don’t need to think about.
Even though I really enjoy meditation, sometimes it can be really hard to practice it. I still have some of those thoughts that meditation can be a waste of time and that I need to be productive. I also sometimes would rather sleep away my stress than meditate for just a couple of minutes. But what I’ve realized over the past couple of months is that when I just meditate for a couple of minutes, I feel so much better and way less stressed. I’m able to get my homework done quicker and am able to do so without feeling anxious. When I sleep to not face my stress, I only wake feeling more rushed and hectic. Meditation can be hard to implement into my life sometimes, but I really try and make time for it because I know once I do it, I’ll feel better.
From someone who originally dismissed meditation as a waste of time, I would extremely recommend trying it to see its benefits. Meditation has helped me through some really stressful times, and practicing it has really helped my mental health. Even when I’m not in physics class I try and practice mediation and mindfulness. Meditation has really benefited me this year and I’m glad that I have a new technique to cope with stress.
Minds Over Matter Initiative has been conducting successful mindfulness trainings for students and teachers in Southern Delaware since 2014. Below, students between 2nd and 6th grade from H.O. Brittingham Elementary, The Jefferson School, Milton Elementary, Rehoboth Elementary, and Richard A. Shields Elementary share their experiences following some mindfulness training.
“I have used mindfulness before my karate testing and mindfulness helped me calm down and be less nervous. I’ve also used it during dinner for mindful eating, and I taught it to my family.”
“I used mindfulness when I was taking a test. I was on a really hard question and instead of freaking out, I did mindful breathing and I got through the question. At the end of the test, I had a perfect score.”
“Last night I had the hiccups and I used mindfulness and they went away.”
“Mindfulness has helped me control my anger and whenever I fight with my cousins I go somewhere else or to my room and I take my cat (if I’m in my house) and get quiet and sometimes I hear my heart or my cat’s heart.”
“My favorite part about mindfulness is mindful breathing because my brother is literally the most annoying person I have ever known and we get into fights a lot. I use mindful breathing to calm down so I don’t start another fight.”
“My favorite thing about mindfulness is sending nice thoughts. One of my cousins’ aunt just died and she was a special person in my life. So everyday I send nice thoughts to her saying she was a good aunt to my cousin.”
“My favorite thing about mindfulness is that it helps you feel happy in the moment. You’re in the present moment because it doesn’t make you think of the future or what’s going to happen next or the sad past times. It just helps you enjoy life.”
“My favorite thing about mindfulness was mindful seeing because it was cool seeing things I never saw in a room I go in everyday.”
“My favorite thing about mindfulness is mindful walking because you feel a whole lot of stuff everywhere in your body.”
“Once in social studies everybody was talking when we were supposed to be working, and I used my anchor to get my attention back on my work.”
“One time before I went on vacation I couldn’t fall asleep because I was so excited for the trip. I used mindful breathing to help me fall asleep.”
“One time I used mindfulness to help me because in swimming I was going against 2 very fast kids. So I used mindfulness and I won.”
“One time I used Mindfulness was when I was looking for weird things to draw because Mindfulness lets me think about everything, making it easy to think of weird things.”
“One time there was a spider in our house. Me, my friend, and my brother were screaming so I told my friend and my brother to use mindfulness to calm us down.”
“I get angry at my brother a lot, I mean a lot, a lot. When I found out what mindful breathing is it prevented those fights with my brother. Same thing when I play any types of sports I love. I’m normally a sore loser but thanks to mindfulness I am not a sore loser.”
“When I get nervous on a test I use mindfulness to calm me down. When I have a bad day or when I’m angry, I also use mindfulness to calm me down. One time I said a terrible thing to someone and then I sent kind thoughts to that person. One day I had a nightmare. It made me cry. I usually go to my parents bedroom when I have a bad dream. But now with mindfulness I stay put in my bed and breathe in and out to get me to sleep.”
“A time I used mindfulness was when my brother was annoying me but I used mindfulness just in time to not say the F word.”
It seems as if we are always expected to succeed in order to prepare for the next stage in life. In grade school, we are told to get good grades to attend a reputable high school. In high school, there is an incredible amount of pressure to get into a good college, and after college to get a good job, and after you get a job to have a family, and the cycle continues. However, it is not possible for someone to always be in overdrive. If we never stop, pause, and take a break every once in a while, we will burn ourselves out.
This is where meditation has helped me. No matter how much I worked ahead, I always felt like there was something else I had to be doing. Meditation in Mr. Shelton’s Physics class helps me to pause everything going on in my life. For those three minutes, all I have to worry about is focusing on my breathing and clearing my mind. After those three minutes, my to-do list almost always seems to be more clear and organized. Instead of worrying about my other homework or upcoming assessments, I can focus on the activities and labs in physics class, and I end up having an increased understanding of the information.
After learning to meditate in physics class, I began to implement it in other aspects of my life. Before I give a presentation, I typically feel nervous, which causes my heart and mind to race. This year, I began using the breathing exercises that I learned in Mr. Shelton’s class to help me. I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and I almost instantly feel my mind clear. After I clear my mind of self-doubt and nervousness, I can focus on my presentation, and do my absolute best.
I am incredibly grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn to meditate. Before physics class, I had never meditated before. I heard that it had helped others, but I never truly believed it until I tried it. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to feel more present and mindful throughout the day. If you simply give yourself three minutes each day to meditate, you can change your day, your attitude, and eventually, your life.
A letter written by former Padua Head of School Cindy Mann
My name is Cindy Mann. As of this year, I am the FORMER Head of School for Padua Academy. To say that I miss the students, parents, and faculty of Padua is a huge understatement! After forty years in education, all of a sudden I am alone. This is not quite an accurate statement, but it is how I feel. During the fall, as the days ticked by, I felt more and more depressed. How does one tackle these feelings – I didn’t know until one day, while sitting alone on a bench in the forest of White Clay Creek State Park, I remembered to BREATHE!
I realize this sounds ridiculous, but I remembered a Padua teacher, Ryan Shelton, and what he taught me about mindfulness, meditation and just plain breathing in and out. That was a turning point in my beginning days of this new page in my life called retirement. Mindfulness was an avenue to walk down and fearlessly face my aging. In her book, The Gift of Years – Growing Older Gracefully, Joan Chittister states, “It is fear of getting older that plagues us. Instead of seeing a long life as a gateway to the flowering of the spirit, the growing of the soul, we are far more likely in a culture geared toward movement and dexterity, physical beauty and public achievement, to see it as the coming of a wasteland.” That is so well put. It expressed exactly how I was feeling – until I remembered to BREATHE!
It was on that day, while sitting on the bench in the woods, that I decided to get off the path of feeling sorry for myself and begin to walk towards a new adventure of the “fresh life within me”. Breathe in and think about all of the beauty around me – Breathe out and thank God for the splendor He reveals to me. Breathe in and let the fear leave my body and Breath out – let the Holy Spirit enter my being inside and out.
It is by stopping to breathe, that I am now on freedom’s road to great beauty, joy and gratefulness. All it took was to allow my spirit the time and space to seek freedom and peace.
This practice of breathing, of seeking, of letting go of fear, opens new doorways no matter your age. At any of life’s crossroads, we are challenged by fear. I promise you, by breathing in and out, centering prayer, and trusting God, you will experience the glory that God intends for you everyday.
I hope you take me up on the adventure of mindfulness and meditation. Life is full of miracles, but we must take time to experience them.
Take care my friends,
As a student, we face many challenges in life such as striving to achieve in academics and sports, working jobs outside of school, and finding time to spend with family and friends. Trying to balance all of these activities can be overwhelming but there is a simple solution: meditation!
Before I began meditating in Mr. Shelton’s class, I was quite ignorant of the reality of how easy it was to simply focus on my breath and calm my mind. I always thought meditating had to be done by yourself in a secluded room for hours and hours. After being properly introduced to meditation, I have now learned that one can meditate anywhere, anytime, with any number of people in the room. I am fortunate to be in one of Mr. Shelton’s physics classes where everyone meditates for three minutes before class begins. In those three minutes each day, I am able to forget about the stress present in my life and simply clear my mind; I end up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the tasks at hand for that day.
Unfortunately, our hectic lives can be an obstacle to meditating. It is quite easy to meditate in class because the room is quiet, everyone around me is participating, and Mr. Shelton is there to guide us to concentrate on our breathing. However, outside of class, I often find myself rushing from sports practice to home, then shower, eat and begin the hefty amount of homework for the night; I simply forget to take a moment to meditate. Fortunately, I believe this obstacle can be overcome. By educating individuals about the power of meditation, I think more people would be willing to try it and it will eventually become an essential and routine way for students to relieve themselves of stress. For example, if all of my teachers learned of the benefits of meditation, they might dedicate time during each class to engage in this practice. In turn, this would become a daily part of my routine and I would be more likely to turn to meditation at home when I am feeling stressed.
All in all, meditating is an easy way to free your mind from any stress impacting your life at that moment in time. From meditating for just three minutes each day, I feel calmer and have a sense that everything is going to be okay, no matter what is going on in my life at that moment. I now feel comfortable enough to be able to take a moment, close my eyes, focus on my breath, and forget about the world, wherever I am at. I am excited to take this technique with me as I travel to college and am presented with new challenges in life.
There’s something so amazing, almost magical, about putting conscious intention into setting your day in the morning. Hello everyone, my name is Natalie Onesi and I am currently a Sophomore at the University of Delaware! I am a double major in Neuroscience and Psychology with a minor in Theatre Studies, and I also balance about three jobs (that I love so much) at any given moment. Needless to say, I am a busy busy person. However, one thing that I have carried with me to make this less stressful is the techniques that I learned with Mr. Shelton both within his classroom and within our Meditation Club at Padua Academy. I am beyond thankful for the things I learned from these techniques because they help me stay on top of everything I have to do and approach it from a more stable and calm position rather than trying to approach it from a frantic and stressed point of view. One of the biggest things I remember about the techniques Mr. Shelton taught us is about relieving pressure on ourselves when we lose focus. When our minds started to wander, Mr. Shelton reassured us that it was okay, and we shouldn’t put so much pressure on staying on one track because putting that pressure on ourselves actually has more deleterious effects when we are trying to practice mindfulness. He would always say, those thoughts are trying to be there, don’t block them from coming, rather try to redirect yourself by thinking the phrase “inhale, exhale” and trying to focus on the area of our face that we were directing our breathing. While this was a technique we used during meditation when our mind started to wander, it was something I applied to everyday life. In life, losing focus on things and losing your way can be scary and frustrating but ultimately you have to balance yourself in order to move on in a productive way. So in moments when everything got very overwhelming, I remembered to just take a breath and redirect my energy.
Meditation has so many benefits. So, so many! And the experience differs for everyone. Personally I struggle with pretty significant anxiety that can sometimes even present itself in physical pain. Meditation was something that actually helped me reduce the intensity and duration of these pains. By being able to put myself into the right mindset and tame the anxiety, I was able to lower the severity. This was huge for me and I am eternally grateful for it! In addition to that, I noticed an increased amount of energy throughout the day, generally better mood, and ability to focus more. Practicing mindfulness lead to all of these things for me and in turn lead to healthier and more positive interactions with myself and the people around me. Good luck to all of you practicing mindfulness. It truly can change your life!
Meditation has always been an idea that I’ve wanted to try but never followed through with. In the past, I’ve attempted meditation but didn’t see the benefits until I started my physics class with Mr. Shelton. I find that as a teenager, it’s really hard to take a break, but just taking 3 minutes before each class to reset has really helped me and my classmates focus.
Although I could talk about stress reduction, relaxation, and the other benefits of meditation, I want to focus on its challenges. As someone who constantly feels pulled in a thousand directions, it is difficult to quiet your mind and focus on the moment. I always used to think of meditation as something you are either good at or you’re not (I considered myself as the ‘not’ group). However, if you practice quieting your mind and focusing on the moment, that feeling of being pulled in a thousand directions will start to decrease. I have seen that meditation is something one must practice, and I find that having the patience to practice is more challenging than simply deciding that one is ‘good or not’ at it.
Why is that the case? Most people, especially teenagers, would rather accept that something is not possible than patiently practice it. Not because they are lazy, but because there are other things they need to prioritize, they need to move onto the next thing. Teens are in an odd and important state in their lives. They are learning about the world, expected to make life changing decisions, and are working hard at their grades and lives. That idea of being pulled in a thousand directions is extremely present for high school students. That’s why it’s so hard to make time to patiently practice meditation. The act of meditating is difficult because everyone always feels guilty for not being productive, and the concept of practicing not being productive is what meditation is! Even if someone knows he or she needs to make time to relax, watching Netflix for an hour is still perceived as more productive than meditating for 10 minutes.
This is why meditation is so challenging and it’s why one needs to patiently practice it. So, today I challenge you to make time to quiet your mind, focus on the moment, not worry about being unproductive, and patiently practice meditation.
Vanessa Vavala, a religion and social justice teacher at Padua Academy, shares her experience introducing meditation to her sophomore classes during Lent:
A few years ago, a friend of mine told me she was making a conscious change in how she looked at life. She noticed that all too often when asked, “How are you?” or “How’s everything going?” her response, and that of so many others, was about busyness. So she decided to eliminate the word busy from her answer. After all, she asked, “Who isn’t busy? And why have we decided to make being busy a badge of honor as if being overwhelmed by the pace of life is something we should achieve?”
The more I’ve worked with the practice of mindfulness, the more I’m reminded of this conversation. Sadly, this isn’t just a phenomenon adults experience; I see it all too often in my high school students. They seem to have bought into the lie that if they just do enough things, they will achieve everything they want. And they are overwhelmed. So, at the encouragement of my colleague, Ryan, who introduced mindfulness to our school community, I decided to introduce meditation in my sophomore classes. Lent was about to begin and it seemed the perfect season to take a few minutes at the beginning of class to focus on being still and being present.
All of my students, except one, were willing to give it a try. At first they thought it was strange to simply stop and focus on nothing except their breathing for a couple of minutes. But what a difference it made. For a little while, they stopped worrying about the grade that might have been posted, the assignment they’d just been given, the upcoming performance, the game that night, or anything else. For a few minutes, they stopped spinning. For a few minutes they were simply present to the reality of the moment. When class began, they were in a totally different place. They were more focused and less distracted. For a couple of minutes, they understood what it was like to be at peace with oneself and the world. We can teach our students many things, but if we can teach them to be at peace, we have given them something they can carry with them for a lifetime.
Before practicing meditation in Mr. Shelton’s Honors Physics class this year, I was very stressed out about my senior year at Padua Academy. With new harder classes and college applications, I didn’t know what to expect or how I would manage to handle all of my responsibilities. Now one semester into my senior year, I’ve been amazed by the results of meditating for just three minutes at the beginning of each physics class. The most prominent benefit is my improved stress and time management. Whenever I have a stressful or challenging class, I anticipate meditating in Physics because it allows me to relax, refocus my mind, and prepare for the coming class. This break in between classes has made me a more productive student by making it easier to learn, participate, and perform in class.
Another difficulty meditation is helping me with in my senior year is preparing for the transition from teenager to adult. In a few months, I’ll be heading to college to face new challenges like living on my own and meeting new people. Through this overwhelming transition, I know that I can rely on meditation to help me stay in the moment and overcome any challenges that I face. When I feel overwhelmed or stressed with classes and activities, my breath helps me to relax and refocus. With meditation, I’m now looking forward to the transition to college.
It’s amazing to see how just three minutes at the beginning of class has created such an impact in the mood and environment of my physics class. Compared to other classes which do not start with meditation, this class feels more enjoyable, fun, and interesting because of the unique mindset of my peers. With meditation, we’re able to calm ourselves and re-energize our minds for the difficult class ahead. Even though physics isn’t easy, we actually enjoy the experience. This has been an amazing transformation.
I hope to see meditation continue to grow throughout Padua. If meditation can spread to more teachers and classes, I believe they will experience similar transformations. I hope more students will get involved and experience the benefits of meditation, so as a community, we can grow even further together. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and grow with meditation along with our community for the rest of my time at Padua and into the future.
My name is Alysse Young and I am a current junior at Saint Joseph’s University. I had the pleasure of having Mr. Shelton as my Physics and Environmental Science teacher during my time at Padua Academy. What really struck me about Mr. Shelton’s classes and his method of teaching, is that he implemented lessons that his students could apply to their lives outside of the classroom. Some of the skills he taught us included meditation and self-reflection. Mr. Shelton reminded us that in life it is easy to get caught up in the stresses and daily to- do’s, but it is important to take a step back and put everything into perspective. These lessons began to resonate with me, so I decided to continue these practices for the rest of my time at Padua and into my college years. This past semester I had the joy of taking a yoga/ meditation course to satisfy my religious difference requirements. I was able to use the knowledge I gained from Mr. Shelton’s class and build on that knowledge throughout my class this past semester. Ever since putting meditation into my daily routine I have noticed significant and positive changes in my life. Some of these changes include increased energy, less stress, and overall increased happiness. If I could give some advice to anyone trying to incorporate meditation into their life, it’s to let things come and go when you meditate. It’s easy to get frustrated when you can’t silence the thoughts that come to your mind. This is something that I really struggled with when I first started my practice. The best thing to do is to allow thoughts to come and go and to not try so hard to block them out. Meditation can really change your life if you are open to it. I hope writing about my experiences can help some of you reading this. I wish you all the best in your meditation journey!
Current Padua Academy Junior Emily G. shares her thoughts about meditation:
This year I tried meditation for the first time. Although I’ve always been familiar with meditation, I had never really taken an interest in it until Mr. Shelton’s Physics class. After listening to his talks and participating in daily three-minute meditations I began to see a change in attitude in not just myself, but also my classmates. These three minutes set a tone for the rest of the class, and the classroom environment became clearly calmer. With a calmer environment, my classmates and I were able to maintain focus and have a better learning experience increasing our overall productivity. After noticing these changes, my curiosity grew and I realized that I wanted to find out more about what meditation is and what it does for the mind and body. I had a lot of questions, so when I saw that Mr. Shelton had a club for meditation, I decided to join. My friend Isabella E. and I told Mr. Shelton about our interests in the club and he gave us the opportunity to become co-leaders. I also brought my ideas and interests in meditation into my Junior research paper. My paper explained how meditation would be beneficial for students if implemented into classrooms nationwide. From writing this, I began to understand so much more about meditation. I learned more about its history and read about actual studies on its benefits. I soon concluded that the benefits of meditation outweigh any of the doubts, and implementing it into our lives would help our schools and society overall. (Read Emily’s research paper here) As a society, we definitely struggle with finding love within ourselves and within others, and I believe if more people meditated, society would become more peaceful and relationships would be stronger. I am excited to be involved with this club, to share my thoughts and experiences with others, and to learn even more about meditation. I hope to see the club grow, letting more people experience the benefits of meditation, and in the end, create positive changes in the community.
Over Christmas break, I’ve been working on a new presentation to help my students align with love instead of anger, fear, or greed. The slides for the presentation are here. I’ll be curious what my students think after seeing the presentation in the next few days!
Isabella E. shared her experience learning to meditate with Delaware Changing Lives here. The text can be found below.
“My name is Isabella Elliott, and I’m a high school junior at Padua Academy. In Mr. Shelton’s Honors Physics class, we’ve started each class with 3 minutes of meditation since the beginning of the year. I want to tell you about my journey and how this small change has benefitted me and my classmates. When Mr. Shelton first introduced meditation to our class, I was open to the idea because I had tried apps for meditation, however, I never could seem to stick to a schedule. After only a few classes of meditation, I began to look forward to class every day. Not only to learn physics but also to get the feeling of relief and calmness that meditation brought. That’s when I realized how meaningful meditation truly is.
After a few months of meditating in class, I noticed it got easier and easier to settle down and focus. I was able to put my restless thoughts at ease and focus on myself as a whole. After each session, in addition to feeling mentally relieved, my body was physically calmer and I felt more focused for class. I noticed that meditation was helping other students too. Everyone was able to settle down, and give their undivided attention to learning. Due to how stressful a high school environment can be, I believe it is very beneficial for students to have meditation, even if it is just 3 minutes a day.
I was not surprised that meditation greatly benefits one’s mental health. I tend to overthink a lot about my day and the future, however, with daily meditation I have come to realize that my daily stresses are much smaller than I think. After participating in one 10 minute session of meditation after school, I noticed that the feelings of frustration and worry that dwelled in my mind all day had vanished. It truly felt like I had come out of a trance when the session ended. My mind felt free as if it were a blank slate that I could build upon with only positive thoughts. I believe that people in our society struggle with creating these positive thoughts and finding peace with themselves and one another. If more people meditated, I believe our society would be more open-minded and people would be able to live more freely.
To help more students and teachers experience the benefits of meditation, Emily Gallo and I are partnering with Mr. Shelton to have a monthly 10-minute after-school meditation for anyone who wants to try it. In our first session, we had about 20 people! We’re planning to put up posters to spread the word about our December session with the student body and faculty in hopes of having an even better turn out. We’re excited to see what happens next on this journey!”
For the last two years, Padua Academy has provided Mindfulness Meditation training for their teachers. Several teachers shared their experience for Delaware Changing Lives. You can read the story here.
Four of my students shared their experiences with Delaware Changing Lives here. Below are some additional thoughts from my students.
Lauren O. – 2 years ago, I sustained a concussion that lasted 9 months and severely affected both my physical and mental health. I had horrible headaches and nothing seemed to help, so one of my doctors suggested meditation. It had not only helped to ease my headaches, but it calmed my mind of the anxiousness that overtook me every day. I continue to practice meditation in school and in life, and have found countless benefits.
Riley H. – I had never experienced meditation before Mr. Shelton introduced it to me in class. Being a junior in high school with an extremely busy schedule, meditation has allowed me to let go and feel relaxed about all my struggles and worries. Meditating at least once during a hectic day allows me to see the bigger picture and appreciate what is actually important in life. I now meditate everyday due to the positive effects it has had on my life.
Olivia R.- Mr. Shelton introduced a three minute meditation session to my physics class this year, and while at first I was hesitant, I have learned that it really has helped me with my everyday life. I have realized that those three minutes help me to let go of pointless worries that I have and allow me to focus on the most important things in my life.
Cristina H.- Meditation has been a way for me to clear my mind of all the stress and worries in my life. It has been a way for me to step back from the mayhem going on in my daily life and relax. In physics class every morning we have been practicing meditation and it has been a nice way to relax before a stressful day of classes or just been a way to take a few moments to focus on myself rather than other things going on in my life.
Jess C.- I never liked meditation before Mr. Shelton’s class. I thought it was a waste of time and I could never quite settle myself enough to get what the whole thing was about. Through the guided meditation in his class and the just three minutes we take before class starts I have been able to really realize how quieting your mind can help you feel more relaxed, collected, and focused on the task at hand. Thanks to the way that Mr. Shelton guides the class in meditation I have realized how useful a tool meditation is and why it is so helpfully implemented into his class.
Maggie P.- Before this year, meditation has never really been something that was a part of my life. However, after being introduced to it by my physics teacher, Mr. Shelton, it has had a positive effect on me and my relaxation level throughout the day at school. Those three minutes of meditation before class have allowed me to focus on only myself and no other outside worries. Meditation, personally, has also challenged me to try to put everything else out of my mind. I’ve grown from my experience and become a better meditater. In addition, I have also started to meditate after long stressful days of school and at very stressful times of my life just to calm myself enough to focus on my next task at hand.
Naja M.- Meditation was introduced to me through my physics teacher, Mr. Shelton. We would begin classes with a short meditation to help center ourselves before class. These short meditations sparked an interest in me. I now use meditation in my daily life, in the mornings and before bed, and in the process I’ve learned how to calm myself and prepare for the day ahead of me.
Vanessa B.- Meditation has really opened my mind. I have learned how to mentally step away from the chaos of the day for just a few moments. With practice over time, I have developed an increased mindfulness and realized how simple life really is. Meditation helps me to embrace who I am through a feeling of inner peace and satisfaction, in addition to being a major stress reliever.
Ally D.- I was introduced to meditation and mindfulness when I was suffering from severe anxiety during Freshman year. It helped me take control of my thoughts and my feelings. Since learning how to cope with my emotions and nervousness, I honestly didn’t make as much time to meditate. Since beginning Physics with Mr. Shelton, I have been exposed and given the opportunity to meditate and practice mindfulness on a daily basis. The three minutes of class that we are able to focus on ourselves and just breathe deeply has helped me to relieve stress and calm myself during a difficult day.
Katie H.- This year I was introduced to meditation through Mr. Shelton’s physics class. I have always been a person who experiences a lot of stress and anxiety due to my extremely busy schedule with schoolwork and sports. I was surprised and happy to see that in a normally stressful class, like physics, the teacher focused a lot on mental health and well-being along with obviously the classwork. At first, I did not think 3 minutes of meditation every class was going to have any effect on me, but I found myself refreshed and less stressed coming into class.
As my students continue to express benefits from meditating in class, I was asked to give a presentation at an event sponsored by Delaware Changing Lives headlined by Delaware Governor John Carney and US Senator from Delaware Chris Coons. My 2 minute speech is below.
Rules, titles, money, and competition bring order and compliance to society because they give us the illusion of understanding and control. If we follow the rules our lives will improve. If we break the rules our lives will suffer. By the time we discover the fallacy of these statements, it’s too hard to walk away. We discover that the humans in power create rules that benefit themselves, and we follow because we don’t have the power or understanding to create change. If logic was our only tool to impact the world, we would be stuck, but love presents a scary and exciting alternative path.
Unconditional love it a truth beyond human constructs. Love is not concerned with rules, titles, and money; Love is about acceptance, understanding, and compassion. Love starts within our own mind and body and projects out into the world. When someone is connected to unconditional love, titles projected on them by society are powerless. Love has the potential to transcend the nuanced difficulties of our communities.
When a person leads with power, they push subordinates in a desired direction based on rules, punishments, and rewards. When a person leads with love, people follow because they’re attracted to their leader’s qualities. Leading with love is not easy because it requires a person to surrender control, honor the people in their lives, and hope for a positive and unified direction. This may sound weak, but a small group of people listening to internal truth, embracing love, and living compassionately have the power to show the most privileged humans a quality of life that will attract them.
Unconditional love for oneself and others is the ultimate treasure worth discovering for everyone. Seeking love and truth is scary and humbling as you discover that your beliefs and the entire human construct are full of holes and weaknesses, but if you open yourself up to the natural truth, you will discover a tool strong enough to guide you and our world in a healthy direction for all. We can do this!
Following two more mass shootings, I am determined not to respond with fear or anger because I know that love is the only action that can reunite this country. It would be wonderful if swift action, like a new law or new leadership, could quickly resolve these problems, but our struggles run deeper than that. Anger, fear, greed, apathy, loneliness, hatred, and selfishness can be found in diverse people throughout our country, and they need help, but we need to help ourselves first. If these events trigger destructive emotions inside of us, we are only adding to the collective struggles. We must connect to a higher purpose that’s more important than our personal needs to bring stability to our communities.
In a country that discarded God decades ago, has started to discard science, and is constantly witnessing tragedy and sensationalized news, how can people find grounding and stability? I think it’s driving us all a little crazy. Love is the one tool strong enough to draw people out of the darkness and into a healthy and stable place. Love is peaceful, eternal, and beyond life and death. Love can guide us out of this misery.
People connect with love in different ways: religion, family, and community service to name a few. The challenge is to expand these pockets of love towards continuous unconditional love for all. We can’t be loving if we’re feeling anger, fear, or greed, so we need to learn how to manage these feelings. I believe there are many successful strategies that can help people grow in love, but the one that is most helpful to me is meditation.
Meditation gives me a tool to observe and weaken harmful emotions within myself without burying them or dumping them on someone else. Meditating with a group provides the same individual benefits, but also unites the group in the mission of peace, unity, and love. Since meditation is simply a technique to discover the truth within, we can bypass the complicated and divisive arguments between various philosophical and religious beliefs and join together with the simple purpose of connecting to love. The spread of meditation through different compartments of society gives me hope.
Unfortunately, many more people will die from gun violence in the coming years. If we can respond to these tragedies with love, compassion, and peace, we will be building the foundation for a future full of love, compassion, and peace. If we respond with hatred, fear, and blame, our future will carry these same qualities forward. Let’s be diligent in discovering how to bring love into this world together.
Meditation is more than a tool to decrease stress and increase productivity. As technology speeds up the world and opinions become more divisive, I believe meditation will be the tool that allows us to stay connected to our hearts and our communities so we can create a beautiful future for everyone on our planet. This may seem a bit idealistic given our current political and social climate, so let me explain how this could work.
As technology speeds up the world, we’re expected to make decisions and take actions more rapidly. This speed emphasizes the processing power of the brain and devalues the depth and strength of the slower moving heart. When we feel discomfort, the brain tells us how to quickly escape it with easy distractions like scrolling social media or watching Netflix. While this diversion can be helpful at times, by avoiding negative feelings, we’re often simply delaying dealing with something like work, relationship struggles, or other responsibilities. Negative feelings are messages that we need to hear and process to reach our potential, and while the brain avoids them, the heart has the tools to skillfully listen and act.
People connect with their hearts in different ways: taking walks in nature, reading poetry, or sharing tea with a friend. Even the brief pauses between events, like a car ride or waiting in line, used to allow processing time for our hearts to talk to us, but most of these breaks have been eliminated by technology. Yes, technology has made many monotonous tasks more efficient in a wonderful way, but this processing speed is causing us to lose connection to the heart resulting in an increase in mental health concerns.
While there are many ways to passively connect with the heart, meditation is an active conscious effort to create the space in our day to make this connection. Instead of letting the same thoughts repeatedly spin through the brain, or completely shutting down by turning to the Internet, meditation allows people to stay present with their body while mental tension naturally unwinds. In the process, the heart, which was previously being ignored, gets recharged and reintegrated.
As the world struggles to navigate difficult large-scale challenges, it’s essential that we reconnect to our hearts so we can reconnect to love, compassion, community, and faith. If we’re always stuck in our brains, it’s easy to become self-centered, afraid, angry, or greedy because it’s not our brain that connects us to other people. Building a healthy future for our planet requires our ability to connect with one another through our hearts. Meditation is the strongest tool I’ve discovered to strengthen my connection to my heart. Maybe it can help you too!
Another mass shooting. We know there will be more. How do we feel? Anger? Fear? Apathy? How do we respond? Do we fight back? Do we hide? None of these thoughts and feelings seem to make me feel any better. I grew up in an America full of hope and promise; Now we seem to be waiting for our turn to experience tragedy. We escape to artificial virtual realities and live at the surface of our emotions to avoid the depth of our pain, but deep down, we know we must face these feelings and circumstances head on.
Our current reality isn’t the one I hoped for. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t have picked this situation, but this is my life, and my life gains meaning by my response to challenges that present themselves, not the privilege that was handed to me. I’m not on this planet to simply take in oxygen and consume nutrients. I’ve been given this opportunity to make the world a better place, and the more difficult the path, the stronger my conviction must become.
Our world is so full of anger that individuals are choosing to fire repeated rounds into crowds of innocent people and often take their own lives shortly afterwards. I can’t simply chalk this up to mental health or gun access; It’s happening too frequently. Instead, I believe people are in so much pain that this outburst of aggression provides an emotional release. Individuals are choosing these types of action because they believe the results are the best their life has to offer. I feel bad for anyone who feels so tortured that this seems like their best path forward.
I wish I had a solution that could solve these problems quickly. I don’t, but I do have a solution. We need to rebuild a world full of hope and inspiration. As distant as this dream seems, all it requires is for people to purposefully stand together and walk in the direction of love. We must put into context all of the minor difficulties of our lives, we must create space to take care of our own mental and social well being, and we must invest in the people in our communities so they have better opportunities and choices. Instead of burying our emotions or letting them overpower us, we must use them to fuel us to act in positive ways. Things are only going to get better when we start to invest in one another and start believing in a peaceful and compassionate future for all people. Let us walk together with love knowing that the challenges ahead won’t be easy, but knowing that the future is worth the investment. When tragedy hits, let’s focus our energy on becoming a stronger community that supports all of our members. Let us have faith that with good intentions and right actions we will produce positive outcomes. Let us stand together to build the future of our collective dreams.
Healthy relations depend on the mental and physical health of both partners. If a woman is unsafe, unsupported, and unprotected, it will be difficult for her to feel healthy, strong, and confident in her life. I work at an all-girls high school with 650 students, and the current message in the press that a girl’s body is not valued and is unnecessary to protect is simply unacceptable. We need to find a way to do better. As a teacher, I have a responsibility to help my students skillfully navigate our complicated world. As a male, I need to join the conversation about how we can best support women. If I want to live in a healthy society, I need to support a positive growth environment for all of its members, and I believe that starts with a conversation.
We are constantly persuaded by advertisements to seek out quick thrills. Watch this movie! Eat this dessert! Drive this car! Wear these clothes! Drink this beverage! It feels good, so live in the moment, and go for it! We promote the thrill of sex in the same way by separating the feelings of sex from the long-term implications of intimacy, and I think this opens the door for sexual abuse. Individuals are seeking sexual thrills, but intimacy requires two people, and for intimacy to be healthy, both participants must consent. Personal connection gets reduced when there is loud music, dimmed lights, and intoxication, and it’s completely lost when an individual is using someone else’s body as a tool to produce a thrill.
We need to help boys and girls realize that intimacy is more nuanced than a temporary thrill, and we need to be able to talk about it. We need to explore how certain situations or behaviors make people feel uncomfortable, and we need to learn new strategies to promote the formation of healthy relationships. We need to learn how to create safe environments for women to live in while promoting a culture that prioritizes mental and physical health for everyone. By teaching boys how to become better human beings, we will help girls feel safe, and support vibrant relationships. We can make improvements in our communities that will benefit all of its members, but we need to start by having a conversation.
Our Loving Lives team of 4 students and 5 teachers travelled to the University of Pennsylvania to share our story with Angela Duckworth and the Character Lab. While all the teachers did a great job, our students stole the show by sharing their personal stories through powerful speeches (copied below). As a high school teacher, I never guessed I would be leading a presentation at UPenn and receiving compliments from someone like Angela Duckworth while trying to help my community tackle difficult issues like teen suicide and school shootings, but here I am, and I can’t wait to discover the next chapter of our journey.
You can find the presentation slides here. Student speeches are below.
Lauren Gempp – Seeing the Loving Lives presentation for the first time (slide 12)
This idea was introduced to us in the fall of our Junior year. The day of the first presentation, I sat in the classroom ready to complete a physics lab and learn more formulas. I had upcoming tests and quizzes on my mind, in other words, the usual Junior year stress. As you can see on this slide, “Before” the presentation I was distracted by many obligations- academics, volunteering, sports practices, and time for friends.
Then, Mr. Shelton began this presentation. First, I realized how my goals and many of those around me were in line with the left. Get good grades, find a great job, build a good resume. I was so surprised to hear a teacher point these out and show that everyone was similar in this sense. Usually, students today are used to hearing about the importance of high success academically and in extra curriculars, so I was trying to process what he was pointing out.
As he continued, the right side goals were goals that many of us in the classroom WANTED to have. Do your best, but accept yourself, help society not just yourself. Throughout this, my mind was hearing what he was saying, yet I was still thinking about my upcoming obligations. By the end, I felt confused- a teacher telling us that we don’t need the best grades or the greatest job. But it was also a relief, as seen in the last image on the slide. I can do my best and accept that even if it isn’t the best of the group, and be content with whatever the results may be. I should always lift those around me up. His presentation showed us that a happy life doesn’t need to include being rich and winning awards. You can be the best possible version of yourself, help those around you and still be successful and happy in a different way. We need to put standards aside and work as a cohesive group to better the world around us. If people are smarter, more talented, or more experienced than you, you must take it and learn from it.
This took me time to comprehend and I am still understanding it fully now. But the main things taken away from this first presentation was that one’s goals do not have to be “me focused” to be successful.
Maureen Haffey – Navigating the Parkland school shooting together (slide 19)
When hearing about school shootings, we as students often feel afraid and helpless, and it can feel as if we have no one to talk to.
Our talks about the Parkland shooting that we had during school really helped students to clear their minds and talk about the fears that come with hearing about school shootings.
For me personally, only 2 of my teachers allowed us to openly talk with them about the shooting. I know many students wished more teachers (and other adults in general) talked to us about these tragedies because talking about these things with adults that we trust gives us a sense of security and we feel less alone.
We also talked about how we always feel as if we “live in a bubble” and nothing will happen to us or our school, but we really can’t control what happens, so it’s very possible it could happen to us.
The social contract helped us to focus our energy more on having an open mind and thinking about a positive future, rather than living in fear that something dangerous could happen to us or our school.
Seeing that 20% of faculty signed the contract definitely made students feel more confident about it, because although not all teachers will openly talk about these difficult topics, it shows that they really do support us and want to lessen our fears in order to help us make a more positive future.
I know students attitudes about school shootings and just tragedies in general definitely changed after the social contract and our discussions, and they were more focused on helping create a positive future. Now, after all the talks we’ve had, we are ready to take on any challenges we may encounter, and we know we are not alone while facing them because we have the support of not only our peers but the adults in our lives as well.
Madelyn Williams – Integrating meditation into the classroom (slide 23)
Good Afternoon everyone. My name is Madelyn Williams and I was a student in Mr. Shelton’s Physics class this past school year so I was involved in his Loving Lives meditation study.
Meditation gave our students an outlet to find themselves, become grounded, and regroup for the tasks ahead. We had discussions about our feelings on current events and how things beyond our control, like the Parkland shooting and our current political state, were in a way controlling us and making us feel unsafe, confused, paranoid, or even scared. By implementing meditation techniques throughout the year and having open discussions, our class reported feeling much more aware and in touch with ourselves, more powerful, and in control. We reported less stress and more contentment with our course work and our life outside of school. Meditation created a class environment where we all felt safe and supported when bringing up such hot button issues. These in class discussions really allowed us to reveal our true views and concerns without judgement or reprisal. As a representation of our student body, I feel that implementing meditation techniques to encourage free thinking and dialogue between all kinds of people can not only help pave a new path towards compromise and clear a troubled mind, but can also create a focused and relaxed environment for everyone to excel and be their best. For me personally, my meditation experience started a few years before this class, but regularly meditating with a group of people was definitely an empowering experience, unlike what I was used to before. But not only was it empowering, it also gave our girls the opportunity to feel in control and gave them a chance to really engage in current events on their own so they didn’t feel so helpless. It gave our students the level-headedness and clear mindedness to really delve deep into our society’s issues and discuss them as a class in a way we wouldn’t be able to in a class that didn’t implement these meditation techniques. Thank you.
Caitlin Baxter – Seeing parents, teachers, and students supporting Loving Lives (slide 35)
Growing up, I was the girl who had to get straight As, had to make no mistakes in sports, had to be perfect. Success, in my head, was defined by the previously discussed individual goals. I constantly placed this pressure on myself as I did not want to disappoint my parents, who sacrifice so much for me. I would compare myself to my siblings and I knew my grades had to stay up to remain eligible for athletics. When Mr. Shelton first started talking to us about Loving Lives, I was hesitant to buy in. It did not seem feasible that others would get on board. Influenced by the people in my life and some movies, I noticed the focus on individual goals, from getting into the great college to the perfect happily ever after. However, as he continued to show his passion for creating this new mindset, I started to develop a belief that it was possible. Seeing the statistics come back from the surveys increased my hopes too. I noticed that the majority of all students, teachers, and parents wanted to see a focus on community goals rather than individual goals, the opposite of what I had always felt. During this past school year, my parents noticed me getting really overwhelmed and stressed managing school, sports, and a social life. It was very interesting to me because the first thing that they told me was that my health and overall happiness triumphs over any of the previous things. I had just heard Mr. Shelton’s talk and here my parents were reiterating what he had said, without me ever bringing it up. They have also mentioned that I don’t need to be the smartest or be making the most money to be successful. They preached that as long as I was doing something that made me happy and being a civil, good person, I was a success. It relieved a lot of stress and pressure knowing that my parents were more focused on me gaining experience and retaining useful information rather than just a grade. This is not something that can shift overnight, but it is slowly becoming easier for me to think about community centered goals. As the Loving Lives message spreads, hopefully, little by little, more people will incorporate community goals into their lives allowing them to decrease stress and increase confidence.
Schools appropriately recognize individuals for standing head and shoulders above their classmates at various award ceremonies throughout the year. Unfortunately, many students have internalized that if they are unable to achieve at an elite level, they must be disappointments to the community and unworthy of recognition. Fear of letting people down brings stress and anxiety into students’ lives because they feel the world is demanding that they achieve things beyond their capability. This is an opportunity to fix this misunderstanding.
Every individual has unique gifts that must be encouraged and celebrated by their community. Students don’t need a plaque, trophy, or certificate to be acknowledged for their talents, but they do require support and encouragement from peers, teachers, and parents to cultivate their passions, to mature their unique abilities, and to shine their light on the world. While walking in front of a crowd to receive an award is meaningful, being appreciated for who you are by the people closest to you is the most precious gift a person can receive.
Technology is causing life to speed up and our focus to rarely look more than a few days into the future. We seek the instant gratification of a handful of likes on our social media accounts, but the satisfaction is fleeting, and the thirst for contentment returns quickly. We must take time to step back periodically and reflect upon what we’re doing. It doesn’t take long to remember that sustained happiness comes from a deeper connection to yourself and the people in your life than the Internet can provide. We must sit face to face and have meaningful heartfelt conversations about the challenges in our lives. We must help one another put our daily struggles into context so we don’t overreact to minor disappointments. We must take time to share the simple joys that we experience every day. While these conversations may feel like obstacles to the completion of your daily tasks, they are actually the foundation for lasting relationships that will support you throughout your life and be valued far more than any trophy.
Life is long and will be full of ups and downs. Success is not the product of perfectly executing every task set in front of you, as this is impossible. Instead, success demands courage and commitment to your goals and dreams even after you’ve been knocked down a hundred times. Milestones like getting your driver’s license, getting accepted into college, building a successful career, and starting a family will automatically arrive in your life at the appropriate time if you remember to develop and nurture high quality relationships along the way because those people will keep picking you up and inspiring you to keep going. We don’t want you to measure your value by the accomplishments you can write on a piece of paper, but by the positive impact you have on the people in your life. If you’re able to focus on these goals, regardless of the outcomes, you are a success in our eyes.
Today I am presenting to 60 high school freshmen from approximately 20 schools near Wilmington, DE at the HOBY Community Leadership Conference. HOBY’s mission is, “To inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.” I am extremely excited for this opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas, and potentially spread the Loving Lives model beyond the walls of Padua Academy.
For those who have been following along, I will be presenting an updated version of my Loving Lives talk. This new version includes new survey data from parents and students with several intriguing conclusions. Contrary to student and teacher expectations, parents would like their teenagers to pursue the goals introduced by Loving Lives, and a student survey given 6 months after the original talk suggests that Loving Lives increased academic achievement while reducing stress and anxiety.
The slides for the new talk can be found here. If you just heard the talk, please rate it or leave a comment to let everyone know how you liked it!