Ms. Carolina Williams, Learning Specialist at the Upper School Miller Campus, has been practicing mindfulness for 15 years. She was first exposed to the practice when she was dealing with severe pain after having surgery. The nurse at the hospital wanted to try a “new method” for helping patients with pain management and Ms. Williams found the method so effective she did some research. She discovered that the hospital was using Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and was so pleased with the results that she decided to use it with her students in the classroom, and get certified as a Mindfulness Coach.
Read on to learn more about how Ms. Williams is bringing mindfulness into the classroom at Gulliver, her tips for starting to practice mindfulness, and more. Be sure to check out the new Mindfulness Corner in future editions of The Weekly Raider!
Q: What is your definition of “mindfulness?”
A: Mindfulness is a way of life and the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. When we are mindful we are aware of our surroundings, our body, our feelings, and emotions in a nurturing and non-judgmental way.
Q: Why is practicing mindfulness important?
A: Mindfulness is not a program or a method, it is a way of life, so practicing it is essential. It helps us decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and with emotional regulation. It also helps us focus better, and be more compassionate with
ourselves and others. The benefits are endless, and it allows us to live life fully.
Q: How are you incorporating mindfulness in the classroom at Gulliver?
A: I practice mindfulness breathing exercises for five minutes with my students at the beginning of class to set a peaceful tone and help them focus and be present during class. We are planning on incorporating mindfulness breathing and heartfulness exercises during advisory, as well. We will also have a YouTube channel with short videos that teachers can access at any time in order to incorporate mindfulness in their classrooms.
Q: How do you think practicing mindfulness helps high school students in particular?
A: High school students benefit from mindfulness, especially with emotional regulation and focus. At this age, our students are learning how to deal with their “teenage brain,” so mindfulness helps them to navigate through this stage in a nurturing and gentle way. Benefits of mindfulness include:
- Our students need a way to release their stress, anxiety, and fears.
- It creates a more powerful, happy, and rewarding family life where relationships and kindness flourish.
- It will help them create a space between their emotions, actions, and reactions.
- Children reflect the nervous systems of adults around them. To create a mindful environment, teachers and parents should practice mindfulness to model it for them.
Q: What advice would you tell someone who has never practiced mindfulness, but wants to start?
A: I would tell them that practicing mindfulness changes your life. It is a very practical and easy way to start living in the present and enjoy every moment fully. It just takes commitment and a desire to change your life.
Q: What is one thing everyone can do to practice mindfulness every day?
A: We can start by practicing five-minute mindful breathing or any other simple mindfulness exercise (walking, eating, heartfulness, etc.) for at least 21 days. This way it can become a habit and eventually a way of life.
Q: What do you hope that the members of our community get out of The Weekly Raider’s Mindfulness Corner?
A: I hope that this Mindfulness Corner can help our students, teacher, and families live a more mindful life by learning more about how to be more present, grateful, and compassionate, and create a more joyful life for ourselves and others.