What is the biggest worldwide barrier challenging people today? STRESS! Yes, the Pandemic, the economy; violence; escalating war; Climate Change; Technology; all these and more are stress-inducing. There is little we can do as individuals to change any of these, but there is a lot we can do about the ways in which we respond individually to any, even all of them. Take technology as an example: why technology? While technology is advancing at break-neck speed and yielding amazing solutions to age-old issues, it has simultaneously stymied us with heaps of new challenges. So many of us, especially our kids are now overwhelmed with expectation, anxiety and alienation. We need simple means to cope with such unavoidable STRESSORS. Social Emotional Learning (S.E.L.) and Breathwork superbly address and manage these stressors IF we collectively learn and practice their skills and thereby elevate schools to be ideal comfort zones of inquiry and acceptance.
Emma Seppala, Ph.D. says in her current article in Psychology Today: “How you breathe can significantly improve your stress levels, your mental health, and your overall well-being… breathwork builds resilience and improves posttraumatic stress.”
So many of our children, their parents and educators are suffering from posttraumatic stress. We can hardly begin reformulating educational theories and strategies without first addressing the stress that is paralyzing our societal awareness and decision making.
Dr. Seppala continues: “Ever noticed how hard it is to calm down, let alone think clearly, in times of high stress, anger, or fear? Here’s why: The part of our brain responsible for rational thinking -the prefrontal cortex – is impaired in times of heightened stress and big emotion. That’s why we have a hard time thinking logically….When you’re angry, a research study by Pierre Philippot and colleagues shows, you naturally breathe harder and faster. When you are calm and peaceful, you breathe more slowly and deeply. But here’s the amazing thing: when you start breathing like the “calm” breath when you’re stressed or angry, you can rapidly make yourself return to a feeling of calm. Changing the rhythm of your breath to the “calm” breath can trigger relaxation in minutes by stimulating the vagus nerve and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (your body goes into ‘rest and digest’ rather than ‘fight or flight’). From a psychological perspective, this finding is quite astonishing: You can change how you feel just by using your breathing – in minutes.”
SKY Programs (www.skyschools.org ) offered through the International Association for Human Values (www.iahv.org), provide the wellness solutions, leadership development and its signature evidence-based technique, SKY Breath Meditation that we urgently need. “ SKY Breath Meditation is designed to be the most comprehensive socio-emotional well-being program available, including a broad range of evidence-based practices that research shows leads to stronger mental health, physical wellness, emotional intelligence and social intelligence. These tools are both cognitively and physiologically based;
Here are some examples of the SKY Schools Program impact on K-12 schools around the US. They are truly impressive:
- Bay-View High School, Milwaukee, WI saw a 60% decrease in Disciplinary Infractions (disruptive behavior, truancy, violence)
- Eastside High, Newark, NJ found a 90% decrease in violence among students with highest rate of infractions
- Dodd High School, Freeport, NY had a 45% decrease in violence and disruptive behaviors
Rigorously designed studies from Yale, the University of Arizona and Harvard, recently compared SKY Breath meditation against top Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness and Wellness programs. These studies found SKY significantly outperformed the comparison groups with INCREASES in: Mental Health; Social Connectedness; Positive Emotion Mindfulness; Sleep; Self-Esteem; Life Satisfaction; and Conscientiousness and with DECREASES in: Stress; Depression; Anxiety and Distress.
SKY Schools Programs (see our current catalog) serve the whole school community: administrators, teachers, staff, K-12 students and their parents. This kind of immersion establishes a common and consistent language throughout the educational community and transcends many communication pitfalls. Expansion of awareness and the building of a mutual support system are among the beautiful harmonizing and humanizing results. If you want to improve your overall wellness and your school, try SKY Breathwork and Wellness.
30 years as an Art Teacher and Arts writer in New Rochelle, NY and now serves as SKY Schools Ambassador in North Carolina.