The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.

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Mindfulness: Living in the Present

Maddie Marks, '18, Editor

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It is not uncommon to feel iffy about mindfulness. In a world where everything is moving and dancing around us, stopping for a few minutes and doing nothing can be challenging. But no, mindfulness is not exclusively for movie or TV characters that sit alone and say oohhmm every few seconds, and it has the possibility to be a lot more helpful and enjoyable than you think, once you decide to embrace it.

“Mindfulness is the present moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment,” says Vicki Huestis, a mindfulness teacher and enthusiast. Huestis visits Strath Haven health classes every Thursday to walk some of the students through the act of mindfulness, and help them be more comfortable just stopping and giving their brains a break. Huestis explains that this awareness has the possibility to bring about great change in our bodies: it helps us understand our emotions more thoroughly, grows love and kindness within us, and allows us to absorb the present moment. Put simply, “Mindfulness allows us to experience life as we live it – in the present moment.”

The most common practice of mindfulness is mindfulness meditation, which, according to Huestis, is “the act of stopping and noticing what is.” This involves clearing the mind and focusing on deep and steady breathing, all the while maintaining an open and relaxed, most often sitting, position. Mindfulness also involves a sense of self love and a growth of peace and kindness towards others, in addition to bodily appreciation. For this reason, body scans, the act of individually noticing and accepting parts of our body, are a worthy practice. But it’s completely okay if meditation isn’t your thing – mindfulness is categorized in a lot of different ways. Gratitude journaling is another method of mindfulness. It allows you to take a moment and think about what you have right now, and, as Huestis explains, “connect to the positive power of our heart.”

Regular mindfulness has some great benefits, especially to teenagers like those here at Haven. Just a few minutes of relaxation a day can bring about a lot of changes, both physically and emotionally. According to meditationoasis.com, the primary effect of mindfulness is lower blood pressure and decreased anxiety, of course stemming from the fact that mindfulness can be described simply as intense relaxation. It can also help you sleep better, and decreases the possibilities of depression and drug and alcohol usage. Mindfulness also has long-lasting effects, including a stronger immune system, clearer arteries, and even a more extensive lifespan. These effects are significant, and as teenagers it is important to grasp this opportunity while the time is right.

So, you want to start practicing mindfulness; you’re ready for a healthier lifestyle filled with less stress and more happiness and kindness. Now what? The answer is: go for it! Strath Haven has a Mindfulness club that welcomes all interested students, so don’t be afraid to seize this chance. However, there is no right or wrong way to be mindful. The only requirement is being aware, of yourself, your environment, and your present. And mindfulness is not a daunting commitment either. Even just sitting quietly a few minutes a day will do it. However you choose to be mindful is okay; all you need to do is clear your head, get in touch with yourself, and most importantly live in the present, because what and who we are right here, right now, is what matters most. Keep that in mind as the school year contines.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Mindfulness: Living in the Present