Is Mindfulness Beneficial? Yes!

Life is full of challenges that lead to the growth and development of an individual; with that, it is easy get caught up in all of the chaos. People rarely think about how their minds are being influenced by the pressures they are exposed to. Although it may just seem like a free period to outsiders, the mindfulness class is so much more than that. Mindfulness is not just a class; it is a practice where an individual can reconstruct his/her brain to handle stressful situations and feelings that he/she may be experiencing. Everyone has stress in life, but no one realizes how beneficial it would be to just take a minute for him/herself every so often. Even though it may not sound realistic for someone to walk away from what he/she is doing to recollect his/her thoughts, it is underrated how important it is for the improvement of one’s mental health.

Amidst all the chaos during the week, whether it is studying for major tests, trying to maintain a good GPA, or making sure to attend after school clubs and activities, life can get in the way of keeping track of how people think, feel, and behave. Many schools including LHS are lucky enough to offer a period where students are not pressured and can just “be.” Most mindfulness students are juniors and seniors, which means that they are heavily concentrated on and working hard to get into college. Working hard to get into their dream schools, preparing for college assessments, and focusing on core subjects comes with major mental strains, even though one may not realize it. Having 40 minutes to release tension and anxiety at school is crucial for students during their busy day. Junior Caitlin Buchala stated, “Mindfulness let’s me connect with myself in ways I am unable to when I am around a lot of people or am distracted. It is a time in my school day where I can just sit and think without being stressed about schoolwork, which leads to a healthier mentality.”

Using different breathing techniques releases fatigue, tension, and anxiety. Such practices are also beneficial in a classroom setting, as a simple inhale and exhale can increase attention and focus. Regulating one’s emotions is vital and can help in issues outside of school as well.

Mindfulness is not just an elective for the people who chose to have it in their school schedule; it can be learned by anyone and can be practiced anywhere at any given time. Whatever struggle someone is facing, mindfulness can help shift his/her perception of thought into a more mindful place.

As its popularity rises, a wide variety of schools are now starting to consider mindfulness as an elective. For example, two representatives from a high school in Cold Spring Harbor are contemplating whether mindfulness should be included in their school’s curriculum. The representatives came to sit in on a third period mindfulness class offered at LHS to evaluate the necessity of this class at their own school. The third period mindfulness students thus presented their arguments on why mindfulness should be offered at their school. Junior Djellza Pulatani stated, “Mindfulness is a very special class to me and every other student who takes it. Our class has learned to become mindful by staying ‘in the now.’ Mindfulness helps tremendously to hit pause and take a whole period to yourself. You are not expected to be the best or to get the best grade. Mindfulness is accepting of just you.” Between the intense pressures at school, problems at home, and constant social media use, teenagers can struggle to focus and get a grip on life. Those who do not practice mindfulness may find themselves using more unhealthy or harmful coping methods for stress. Unhealthy habits such as not eating, overeating, depression, taking harmful drugs, or even suicide are common ways that people might turn to, to deal with stressful situations. If more people introduced mindfulness into their lives, maybe there would be a possible limitation in these factors. Through mindfulness, people can focus and guide their minds along as they learn to let go.

Although history has proven that the majority of the male population at LHS will most likely pick physical education over mindfulness, both genders can benefit from its amazing effects. Mindfulness may seem to some like a female-intensive class, but there is no label that comes along with strengthening one’s concentration and awareness to the world. Senior Ryan Denker stated, “I think it is very healthy to have a class that lets you check in with yourself and help you realize what your internal health is like, especially in a day that is constantly moving and constantly demanding of you.” Everyone needs to check in with him/herself at one point or another. Having this class is a great opportunity to reinforce one’s positive behaviors.

Some people do not consider mindfulness an important class and think that physical activity would be more beneficial. Mindfulness can help one’s mental health, and a lot of the backlash towards it is perpetuated by a society that values physical over mental health. Although physical education is still very important, mindfulness can prepare an individual to know what is healthy and what is not in regards to his/her emotional state.

Although mental health is greatly influenced, most would be surprised to hear that physical health can also be improved by this practice. Mindfulness has been proven to help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. The correlation between body and mind wellness is significant to remember. Mindfulness is concerned with being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, but also about focusing on what is happening in the body. When meditating, a person is accepting him/herself for how he/she is and is not focused on trying to fix anything or work on him/herself.

LHS’ Mindfulness class is a warm and welcoming environment where a student can shape his/her mind and prepare him/herself to cope with stress inside school and outside school as well. Training the brain to think and function positively can change a person’s life for the better. Before meditating, it almost feels as if the mind is clogged and upon leaving class, it has opened, leaving a clear, adjusted space. As Mindfulness and Health Teacher Deborah DeBetta explains, “The only moment that you truly have is the present moment. When we have awareness, we can notice when we are not being present and come back to the here and now. I love teaching all these techniques because they really made a change in the way I respond to challenges in my life, and I love sharing these techniques with all my students.”

The shift of blossoming from a child to an adult comes with many responsibilities, and meditation can free a person of that binding pressure. The practice can cure a person’s mind, body, and soul by releasing bad inhibitions that may be occurring in the life of an individual. Being a part of the class at LHS will only prove to strengthen one’s mind and benefit mental and physical health.