As a Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles schools with a 40-year personal mindfulness practice, Helen knew that the students in the continuation high school she worked at would benefit from learning mindfulness. Luckily for Helen, the principal had already been introduced to the concept of mindfulness through a class offered through her Catholic church. So the principal agreed that the school could benefit from learning some techniques in focus, attention and especially stress-reduction for both students and teachers.
With the principal’s support, Helen spoke with one of the teachers at the school who felt like he needed all the support he could get in his classroom. The teacher agreed to have Helen teach a short mindfulness program in his class.
While she was a long time mindfulness practitioner, Helen wanted guidance on how to teach mindfulness and use a pre-established curriculum before going into the classroom.
|“For young people who’ve experienced
trauma and disruption, I understand that
quieting their minds and bodies can be
a really uncomfortable experience.”
The school’s demographic was mostly African American and Latino males from low-income backgrounds—some freshly out of imprisonment due to gang-related offenses. “My students did not have a reference for mindfulness,” Helen shared when speaking about how the program was initially received. “So when I first came in, there was a lot of rolling eyes and heads on the desks. I’ve seen Room to Breathe and there was a similar sort of lack of respect in the beginning.”
Helen’s trust in mindfulness (drawn from her own experience) allowed her to be patient with the students who continued to struggle. She accepted that some students just might not respond to mindfulness right away, or perhaps it would just take them some time to unlearn old thought patterns and habits.
To Helen’s delight, she noticed mindfulness resonating powerfully with some of her students. “There was one young man who was 16 years old and a football player. At first, he just wasn’t going to have it. He kept getting up out of his chair and being disruptive. The teacher told him, ‘If this is uncomfortable to you, you can go into another room.’ Because it was ultimately the teacher’s room, I let that happen, but I wanted to check in with him personally. Since I am the school therapist, I did a one-on-one session with him. I just wanted to get to know him so he felt comfortable with me. After that, he stayed in the class and participated during the mindfulness lessons and then kept seeing me to talk thereafter. He really opened up to me and the mindfulness practice. He could finally see the benefit and make it real for himself.”
|“He could finally see the benefit and make it real for himself.”|