A focus on mindfulness helps Maine students ease stress

Source: www.wmtw.com


Cape Elizabeth Middle School hired a Mindfulness Director to help students navigate some of their mental health needs

Cape Elizabeth Middle School introduced a new teacher to their students in 2019 that teaches them about mindfulness.

Students are being reminded to take a deep breath and slow down.

Erica Marcus is the Mindfulness Director. She says the goal is to reduce anxiety and stress.

“Very simply we start every class by listening to the sound of the bell. You ring the bell and you raise your hand when you can’t hear the sound any more,” said Marcus. “The idea is we are all bringing our focus to one place to something stable that’s happening right now.”

Marcus said she’s seen students take important life principles away from this.

“There’s a forgiveness practice where you practice to not be perfect. I had a student say for her at that moment in time it was important to be reminded of that and she felt a lot of relief from that,” Marcus said.

With students having to go back and forth between virtual and in-person learning over the last two years, some students have had a hard time navigating and adjusting.

“I think it was really hard for me at the start of the year because I just had gotten back to 6th grade and I was remote for 5th grade completely and I was having some trouble with friends, so I thought that might be a little helpful,” said Mindfulness Ambassador Edie Wood.

This practice is having far reaching impacts as students head to other classes as well.

“It’s nice to be able to take a moment all together with my class because they’re coming in all different places too and to ground ourselves- to feel more at ease and I can do a better job at reaching my students and they are also more available to learning,” said Special Education teacher Lisa Lund.

Not only has this helped students in the classroom but it has also helped students face adversities in their day-to-day lives.

“My dad is deployed in the military so it helps me calm down sometimes and it helps me not worry about him as much,” said a Mindfulness Ambassador.

French and Spanish teacher Haley Malm starts off her class with two minutes of mindfulness.

She said it’s been a key factor on how effectively her class learns.

“It’s not about slowing down to take away rigor, it’s slowing down to be able to learn and to be able to absorb,” Malm said.

This teaching has also created a tool for parents to come together and support one another, with no judgment.

“We’re asking parents to come in and reflect on what it’s like to be a parent right now and get support and understanding around the practice to be compassionate during this time and how hard it all is and practice slowing down and taking that pause before we react to others around us,” said Marcus.

Right now there’s only one mindfulness director in the school, but Marcus hopes more can soon be added to help amplify this resource.

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