Mindfulness & Wellness

BFA incorporates mindfulness training into the morning routine in an effort to prepare students & staff for the challenges of the day. The BFA mindfulness training follows the secular application as developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn who created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

 

According to the University of California-Berkley, studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits. Here are some of these benefits, which extend across many different settings.

 

  • Mindfulness is good for our bodies: A seminal study found that, after just eight weeks of training, practicing mindfulness meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness 
     

  • Mindfulness is good for our minds: Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. Indeed, at least one study suggests it may be as good as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse 
     

  • Mindfulness changes our brains: Research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy
     

  • Mindfulness helps us focus: Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills
     

  • Mindfulness fosters compassion and altruism: Research suggests mindfulness training makes us more likely to help someone in need and increases activity in neural networks involved in understanding the suffering of others and regulating emotions. Evidence suggests it might boost self-compassion as well 
     

  • Mindfulness enhances relationships: Research suggests mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another 
     

  • Mindfulness is good for parents and parents-to-be: Studies suggest it may reduce pregnancy-related anxiety, stress, and depression in expectant parents. Parents who practice mindfulness report being happier with their parenting skills and their relationship with their kids, and their kids were found to have better social skills 
     

  • Mindfulness helps schools: There’s scientific evidence that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems and aggression among students, and improves their happiness levels and ability to pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness also show lower blood pressure, less negative emotion and symptoms of depression, and greater compassion and empathy
     

  • Mindfulness helps health care professionals cope with stress, connect with their patients, and improve their general quality of life. It also helps mental health professionals by reducing negative emotions and anxiety, and increasing their positive emotions and feelings of self-compassion
     

  • Mindfulness helps veterans: Studies suggest it can reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of war 
     

  • Mindfulness fights obesity: Practicing “mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps people lose weight, and helps them savor the food they do eat.

The Magic of the Qi Tree

During Home Team, for approximately 20 minutes, students are encouraged to engage in the Magic of the Qi Tree, a revolutionary program developed by Dr. Edwin Riley and Kendall Artusi. Teachers are provided a video recording that allows students to follow Dr. Riley through a series of exercises every day. The program order is as follows:

 

MONDAY: "Shake Your Qi Tree." The form is simply standing, knees slightly bent, arms at sides, feet hip width apart, and bouncing. Teachers will lead a visualization relaxing each part of the body starting with the head and progressing to the feet, directing the energy deep into the earth. Students are instructed to visualize, imagine, or pretend they are a tree and the legs are the tree trunk and roots extend from the feet. The upper torso is in motion just as tree limbs and leaves blow in the breeze. This form calms, yet energizes the body and mind, removing blocks, congestion and stagnation.

TUESDAY: "Row, Row, Row Your Qi Tree." This is a powerful Emotional Freedom Technique that balances the brain and is especially beneficial for students who tend to over think. This moves them out of the over analytical mind. Very calming and reduces anxiety. Using first the right fingers, they tap the groove in the left hand between the little and second fingers. Then they close their eyes, and open the eyes, looking down to the right, down to the left, rolling the eyes in a circle one way, then the other way. Still tapping they close the eyes and hum "row, row, row your boat." Then they count to five and again hum "row, row, row your boat." The same is then repeated with the other hand.

WEDNESDAY: "Hug Your Inner Qi Tree." This most ancient of all qigong exercises is done in a stationary standing position with the arms extended in front and rounded like hugging a tree. More powerful than movement, this posture builds strength and energy while it simultaneously trains the mind, calms the nervous system, and strengthens internal organs. As resistance training, this form strengthens bones, arms and legs (parts of the tree are visualized.)

THURSDAY: "Wake Up Your Qi Tree." Question to kids: "Is your Qi Tree asleep?" This is a fun exercise that "pats" or "taps" the entire body head to toe. An invigorating form that improves energy flow through the entire body ridding it of sluggishness and waking up acupuncture points, this form also tones skin, muscles and internal organs. It stimulates an open and alert mind.

FRIDAY: "Wash Your Qi Tree." A combination of breath, movement, and visualization, this form is very potent and soothing. Also an ancient Qigong exercise, it reduces stress and tension, grounds and roots emotions sending tension and stress into the ground. Arms at sides are slowly raised to shoulder height and then palms are rotated facing the sky. Arms are raised until palms face one another; then the Qi is gathered into a ball and slowly released down the front of the body. This powerful mindfulness form moves the student into the present moment.

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