Queens students learning to look inward at mindfulness meditation class

OZONE PARK, Queens (WABC) -- While students at John Adams High School in Ozone Park are studying math, science and history, those entering the classroom are studying themselves.

It is a mindfulness meditation class.

Brendan Walsh leads the meditation in a space that doesn't feel much like a classroom.

Aside from meditation, the students also learn about expressing and interpreting feelings, lessons designed to get the students to look inward in order to change behavior.

"I think a lot of the students who react to emotions, this class gives them a pause, a moment to reflect on what they're about to do and the consequences of their actions," said Walsh. "They're better able to respond to their emotions."

And students agree. "I don't worry about what other people feel because I learned to accept myself and I didn't need to by anybody else," said senior Aliesia Rose.

"I really did learn to relax more, my anxiety level started to decrease because I take so many difficult classes, and I think overall this class helped me as a person," said senior Steven Chavez.

The first mindfulness class was offered two years ago.

It's grown to six classes a day and the school would like to add more and is considering offering classes just for teachers.

Because according to the assistant principal, Dr. Scott Silverman, mindfulness benefits everyone.

And since this kind of interventional approach to positive behavior was launched at the school, attendance is up, fewer students are late and the graduation rate is up.

"I want John Adams to become the visionary school, the leading school on mental and emotional health, and I think we have the support to achieve that, and mindfulness is one big piece of the puzzle," said Silverman.
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