WEATHERSFIELD – To help students calm down and relax during stressful situations, mindfulness activities were introduced earlier in the school year at Mineral Ridge High School.
Art teacher Julie Edwards said Mindful Mondays take place every Monday after school in her classroom, where students engage in mindfulness strategies.
Edwards plays chimes and other soothing sounds on his computer as the students sit in the classroom with their eyes closed, relaxing. She said she wanted the students to feel happy and allow themselves to be filled with peace and love in their minds and hearts as they relax and try to avoid negative emotions.
“I want students to learn how to turn negative emotions into positive emotions by focusing on sounds. Everyone has negative emotions, but they learn to interpret those emotions. Try to remember the positives,” she said.
Edwards said many of the seniors who graduate will experience many life changes with college and she hopes they will adopt some of the strategies she has taught them.
“It’s the next chapter in their lives, which will be amazing for them,” she said.
Edwards said about 12 to 15 students attended the after-school rally, with some staying 10 minutes and others longer.
The students also kept journals so that they could write down their feelings after the meditation exercise.
“I asked my classes if they would be interested in at least trying this. Some have tried to be here every Monday but with school activities and work they can’t always attend. He was very successful Even though they can only stay five minutes, I cheered him on,” Edwards said.
Kya Granger, an elderly person, said she felt more relaxed and her mind was clearer after taking time to relax and meditate.
“I feel like I have more energy and feel less stressed,” Granger said. “This club has been very therapeutic for me. I sometimes feel like a completely different person, calm and at ease. It was a very nice experience.
Grace Masterson, a senior, said she had a busy schedule with school and track practice and later work, but found time to attend class.
“It taught me to train my mind when you’re in a stressful situation. It’s been an amazing opportunity to be a part of that,” said senior Chloe Danadic.
Mindfulness activities were also introduced to Champion Central Elementary School by Principal Alexandria Nannicola. Using chimes and singing bowls, Nannicola had the students sit comfortably on the floor with their eyes closed.
“The chimes have a tone and the bowls have a sound that helps to relax and calm down. You can feel vibrations in your body,” Nannicola said.
Nannicola also goes into classrooms and talks about mindfulness and reads stories to children, which offer strategies for children on how to deal with their emotions or how to sit quietly and clear their minds with meditation or deep breaths.
Nannicola had organized calming sessions for individual classes and then for each of the school’s entire grade levels. She said the sessions also included discussions about respecting and making eye contact with each other when conversing.
She said she shared the message of being kind to others and a positive behavior agenda about how children behave on the playground, lunchroom or classrooms.
Federal emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools were used for programs and the Quiet Room. There are plans to expand the program next year, Nannicola said.