BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – High school kids in our area are learning how to “be in the moment!”
A new “mindfulness” course at Baldwin High School is so popular, school officials had to expand the offering.
In high school, stress comes in 40-minute intervals.
“I’m thinking about the homework I have to do that night, the test I have later, always on my mind,” one student said.
“All the tests and quizzes and finals and regents,” another student said.
“Sometimes relationships with friends.”
At Baldwin High School – in between quizzing and cramming – there’s meditating.
“Notice your breathing,” an instructor says.
“You are present now…”
”You are not controlled by your thoughts…”
“You control them…”
It’s one of the nation’s first public high school courses in mindfulness.
It’s a popular elective taught by April Mosca, who says it’s one of the most important life skills.
“Mindfulness means being present, being in the moment, not worrying what happened five seconds ago or what’s going to happen in five seconds,” Mosca explained.
“We are teaching kids that it’s very important to take care of their mental health just as much as their physical health.”
The course includes yoga.
“It’s breathe in all the negative energy and let it go and that really helps clear the mind,” student Candice Betancas said.
It also focuses on communing with nature and each other.
“You’re just taking it in and thinking about how you’re feeling out here.”
There are deep discussions about kindness and teaching the difficult skill of managing negative thoughts.
“There is more anxiety and depression now than ever before in teenagers,” students told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “Hard for teenagers to be mindful and in the moment all the time because of all the outside noise, the constant dinging all the time.”
“I feel now I’m putting my feelings into perspective and other people’s feelings into perspective at the same time,” student Alyssa Santos said.
“Before would let the little things get to me but now I’m more nonchalant,” Sanjay Kowlessar explained. “I don’t let things get to me as much as they used to.”
Turning out not only better students, but better human beings.
“We forget to stop and pause and reflect and have that self-care so that we can be better human beings, care for others and care for ourselves,” Dr. Neil Testa, principal at Baldwin High School said.
Some educators believe children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness training. As the saying goes, the best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.
The course started with one section last year and expanded to three very full classes this year.