Mindfulness and meditation at DHS


MEDITATION IS LIKE NO OTHER skill. It enables a person to find a centered, present, and calm place within themselves at any given moment, and comes with countless benefits including improved concentration, reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, slowed aging, and a decrease in depression and anxiety, just to name a few.

In our busy and constantly noisy world that often shines a negative light on self-love and the act of taking care of yourself, taking just a few minutes every day to relax, quiet down and appreciate yourself is a radical act.

While not as widespread as they could be, many relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation are becoming less and less abnormal, and are even finding a place within schools, including DHS. While our school does not have a structured mindfulness program like others, our physical education and health teachers Maria Kelly, Mike Frates, and Mark Gaffney have all included some form of relaxation time in their fitness or gym classes.

Mr. Gaffney, for example, started incorporating meditation into his fitness classes last spring. He also had junior Hannah Carvalho instructing yoga classes on Fridays during 4th block during the 1st quarter of the school year. “I loved the yoga classes. It’s a really nice sort of active relaxation and reflection at the end of the week,” said junior Charlotte Correiro.

“We want to show students various ways to maintain a balance with their own personal Health Triangle (Physical, Social, Mental/Spiritual). Meditation is one way to improve the mental component of one’s health triangle,” said Mr. Gaffney.

While many DHS students don’t have a relaxation time in their day because they don’t take fitness or it simply isn’t incorporated in their classes, some other schools around the country and the world have more structured school wide mindfulness/relaxation programs that make huge impacts on all of their students in some way.

One example of this is Visitacion Valley Middle School, a part of the San Francisco Public School District. While Visitacion Valley used to be one of the district’s most troubled schools, with drugs and gang violence often making an appearance on the campus and in the community, the introduction of the meditation program Quiet Time completely changed that. During the first year of the program, the number of suspensions given was reduced by 45%, attendance rates were at 98%, and most importantly, the California’s Healthy Kids Survey found that the kids at this school were the happiest of all kids in San Francisco.

While DHS students haven’t been seeing results this astounding, many have been enjoying and benefitting in some way from the relaxation time. “I always feel refreshed and regenerated after,” said senior Janelle Mercer.

Taking this progressive approach towards students is a key step in becoming a happier and healthier DHS student body.