Add mindfulness to curriculum

Implementation of meditative classes will benefit student health


Photo courtesy of SF Gate

Palo Alto students meditate during a student-geared yoga class lead by Clia Tierney.

Mindfulness is the mental practice of focusing on the present. It is a type of meditation in which one centers his or her awareness of passing thoughts in a completely accepting and non-judgemental way.

Though the art of mindfulness has been practiced since ancient times, it has recently undergone a huge resurgence due to abundant psychological research, including the 2011 study, Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies performed by the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers have found enormous physical and mental benefits of mindfulness, some of which include a boosted immune system, stress reduction, an increase in positive emotions, improved memory and attention skills and healthier relationships. With all of these glorious benefits, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) should look into incorporating it into its curriculum.

Recently, the Ravenswood school district, located in East Palo Alto, has partnered with  the Sonoma Foundation to make mindfulness and yoga a regular part of its schools curriculum. Many are excited about the numerous benefits that will come with this enhanced curriculum.

“As an educator, I see first hand the impact that health and wellness have on our students’ ability to learn and thrive,” Gina Sudaria, principal of Costaño School said in the Palo Alto Weekly. She stresses that all students are bound to benefit “whether [they] are a student who exceeds performance standards [or] a student with severe disabilities.”

However, there are people in the Palo Alto community who do not believe that the program will offer any worth.

One commenter, who goes by the screen-name “Pearl,” shared her opinion in the comments section of Palo Alto Online, “Yep, yoga and mindfulness, that’ll get them jobs! What are you people thinking of? What a waste of time and taxpayer dollars! Yoga and mindfulness, you people have got to be kidding! Shame, shame, shame!”

What “Pearl” does not understand is that mindfulness will do just that and more. The ability to cope with stressful situations and to calm oneself down is essential not only to the work world but to everyday life.

It is for this very reason that mindfulness should be implemented in our very own school district. Palo Alto schools are known for our extreme academic success that surpass many public schools around the country.

However, with all this success comes heavy amounts of pressure. This kind of pressure can have crippling effects on the students within our district, and that is why it is absolutely vital we teach our students how to deal with the effects of this stress. Mindfulness can do just that and so much more.

The importance of mindfulness is popping up everywhere. Several sports teams at Stanford focus on mindfulness to prepare their athletes. The U.S. Army uses mindfulness as a tool to help ready soldiers for deployment.

Just recently, TIME magazine published a cover story titled “The Mindful Revolution” that discusses the validity of mindfulness and the impact it is having on our society today.

The benefits of mindfulness are clear and PAUSD could really benefit from joinning health, happiness, and academic performance into the student community.