Who knew that students could learn mindfulness from a physics class?
Ryan Shelton, a teacher at Padua Academy, introduced mindfulness to his physics class and students have been raving about it ever since. Shelton starts each class with three minutes of guided meditation. Turns out just three minutes is all students need to relax, focus, and get ready for class.
Shelton shared that the first 30 years of his life “were dominated by [his] thoughts.” But since 2010, he has been meditating daily and has found the practice to help him “quiet [his] mind, listen to [his] heart, and connect to the world around [him] with understanding and compassion.”
For many students, Shelton’s physics class was the first time they were ever exposed to meditation. Riley Hickox shared “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.”
Other students had heard of meditation but never found it to be useful for themselves. Jess Classen, a Padua Student, “…thought it was a waste of time” and could never “…get what the whole thing was about.” After Shelton’s class, she realized that taking just three minutes to meditate before class, “can help you feel more relaxed, collected and focused on the task at hand.”
Many students have now adopted meditation into their daily lives after learning it in Shelton’s class. Naja McCain shared: “These short meditations sparked an interest in me. I now use meditation in my daily life, in the morning and before bed.”
Another student, Maggie Pryor, said that she “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.”
Rising expectations of students in K-12 schools increase demands on their attention and executive functioning, but students are rarely taught how to pay attention. Mindfulness has been defined as a nonjudgmental, non-elaborative awareness of the present moment, an awareness that allows for acknowledgment and acceptance of feelings, thoughts and sensations as they arise (Bishop, 2004). Holzel and colleagues (2011) suggested that the benefits of mindfulness could be attributed to two distinct but interrelated components. The first is a regulation of attention focused on immediate experience, while the second involves “approaching one’s experiences with an orientation of curiosity, openness, and acceptance, regardless of their valence and desirability”
Three minutes of meditation at the beginning of class has changed the lives of Shelton’s students for the better. It begs the question, “What would happen if more teachers introduced mindfulness into their classrooms?”
If you would like to talk to Ryan Shelton about how mindfulness is helping his classroom, you can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you an educator who would like to learn more about mindfulness and how it could be incorporated into the classroom?
Delaware Changing Lives offers The Mindfulness Classroom training which teaches educators how to establish their classroom as a mindful environment. You can register here.
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