Mastering Mindfulness


Brooklyn Branstiter, Staff Writer

It is the month of February, meaning the end of the school year is near. To some this can be a great thing, for others, it can be a stressful time. The second semester of the school year seems to drag on because there are sparse breaks, super cold weather and an abundance of homework. One way to help keep yourself on track and focused to finish out the school year strong is by practicing mindfulness. 

Mindfulness, according to, is the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something. Practicing mindfulness can help direct your mind away from negative thinking. Teachers in Alliance High School have begun to realize this and have started to incorporate mindfulness exercises into their classes. Two of these teachers are Ms. Roxie Smith and Mrs. Mary Theresa Green. 

Mrs. Green is one of Alliance High School’s literature and language arts teachers. For Mrs. Green, “mindfulness is simply a mental training practice that teaches you how to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity and stress, and calm your mind and body.  There are lots of ways one can practice being mindful, but it usually involves just noticing your breathing and trying to be aware of where you are in the present moment.” Every Monday, she does an activity that she calls “Mindfulness Monday.” At the beginning of the week, she presents her students with different techniques or exercises. So far, they have focused on breathing and they have been between two and three minutes.

Mrs. Green stated that “I have noticed a difference in attention immediately following the mindfulness activity. Students are definitely more focused and ready to listen after the mindfulness practice.” She also very strongly believes that mindfulness practices create a sense of ease and peace throughout the classroom. 

Ms. Smith is another veteran Language Arts teacher at Alliance High School, who realizes the importance of mindfulness. Ms. Smith teaches a variety of literature and language arts classes. When she was presented with the question, “What exactly is mindfulness and what does being mindful mean?” she responded with, “Being mindful means being in the moment trying to listen and feel what is going on around you.  It is a time to calm your mind from the regrets of the past and the anxiety over the future. It is a time to just ‘be.’” She has been doing activities that help her students focus on their breathing and ways to be in the present moment. 

Ms. Smith strongly believes that students are more relaxed and ready to learn after taking part in the practices. She offers these practices because “kids are my business.” She wants her students to be as productive as they can possibly be. She wants them to be able to figure out healthy life skills for their future. 

Shawna Banks is a student who partakes in one of Ms. Smith’s classes and practices mindfulness. To her,  mindfulness is “to be aware of your thoughts and actions so you can change for the better.” Her way of achieving mindfulness on her own is by checking her thoughts and actions consistently. She states that “making sure that what I say is how I think and feel and making sure that my thoughts are for the betterment of myself by being kinder to everyone is how I will work on myself.” 

Since Banks has started these practices, she has noticed that she is kinder to herself and more forgiving of those around her. In her class with Ms. Smith, she has noticed that after they do their activities with mindfulness everyone is more aware that everyone around them is trying their best. “Knowing that everyone around me has their own things going on in life makes practicing mindfulness so much more worth it.” Banks suggests trying to use a daily mood tracker or use a bullet journal. 

We are always running around with busy schedules, homework, chores, activities, practices, work – we need to learn to take the time every day to put down our phones and clear our minds of stress, to-do-lists, and anxiety.  It is okay to just be still and breathe for a few minutes every day – our minds need downtime as well!