Hillel Torah recently introduced a wonderful, new, school-wide program to bring daily mindfulness practice to the students, called “Calm Classroom.” Mindfulness refers to being fully present with one’s experiences in the moment and accepting them as they are. It involves bringing awareness to one’s physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness has been shown to increase self-control, mental focus and concentration, and overall mental and physical health. It also fits with our theme of the year – “Healthy Body, Healthy Soul” and can provide our students with life skills to feel calm and in control while facing everyday stressful situations in school and in life. We identified Calm Classroom as one of the leading programs in the country for mindfulness in schools. Calm Classroom is research-based, highly structured, easy to learn and implement and is used in hundreds of school with over 200,000 participating students across the country. See www.calmclassroom.com for more details, background and research about the program. For the last six weeks, our students (PN-8th grade) have participated in mindfulness practices twice a day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Each exercise is only 2-3 minutes long and is used as a transition or brain break in most classes. It’s amazing how these short, 2-3 minute, breathing, stretching, relaxation and focusing techniques have the potential to help students manage stress and develop self awareness, mental focus and inner calm. See below for some feedback from our teachers on the program: “My students often have very positive things to say about Calm Classroom!” “99% of the time, the kids do amazing at it and the calm/relaxed tone lasts for whatever comes after that!” “Just wanted to let everyone know how amazing I think Calm Classroom is.The first graders can be wild no doubt, but EVERY afternoon they come to the room, sit in their desks with the lights off and are ready. Even doing the same (feeling the breath) technique 5 days in a row, they do it amazingly.” Here are some quotes from our students after they do a Calm Classroom technique: “I felt so relaxed.” “My anxiety melted away.” “The air in the classroom was calm.” “I had nothing to worry about.” “A wave of peace washed over me.” It is our hope that this regular practice will contribute to an overall calm school and classroom environment, and help our students and staff maintain a relaxed body and calm and clear mind.

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