Education Department Touts Children Practicing ‘Mindfulness’ in D.C. Elementary School

By Penny Starr | May 17, 2016 | 6:53pm EDT

In a blog written by an intern at the Department of Education and posted on the agency’s website, children in a D.C. elementary school are shown meditating during the school day.

“The students had just woken up from nap time, so these exercises were intended to reactivate their brains and keep their focus in the classroom,” intern Brett Swanson wrote in the blog about his visit to the Brightwood Education Campus. “The peer-influence is great to see first-hand because when one student would get off task, their friends would help them get back into the activities.

“After the exercises the students had a chance to sit up tall, close their eyes, and breathe in unison,” Swanson wrote. “Beyond just physical fitness, students and teachers participated in meditation and stretching in order to ease their minds and connect with other people around them.

“I spoke with Kalpana Kumar-Sharma, a pre-K teacher who began this initiative,” Swanson wrote. “She explained that she started by talking to parents and students one-by-one about the importance of health and offering them individual exercises and diet changes.

“She then said she was able to expand her ideas about physical fitness and mindfulness throughout the school because of the one-by-one conversations,” Swanson wrote.

The blog noted that May is Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

“It was such an amazing experience to visit a school that puts mental and physical health first and to witness a part of its rich and inviting culture,” Swanson wrote.

According to the University of California at Berkeley, mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism.

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment,” the Berkeley article stated.

“Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to think or feel in a given moment,” the Berkeley article stated. “When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

“Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years,” the Berkeley article stated.

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