On Thursday afternoons, Brewster High School students and staff come together virtually to take a brain break and de-stress under the guidance of health and physical education teacher Rebecca Archer. These Virtual Mindful Moment sessions are an extension of the high school’s Mindful Moment Room, which was created by Archer as a safe space to decompress.
With the challenges of COVID, Archer has transitioned to hosting a standing weekly meeting until the space can be reopened.
How did the idea of Virtual Mindful Moment sessions come about?
The Mindful Moment Room at Brewster High School has been a huge success the last few years. It is a safe space for students and staff to take a short break while utilizing a variety of stress management techniques and mindfulness strategies. Due to safety and staffing issues, we have not been able to open the physical space this year. Around the holidays, while I was teaching remotely with all of my students, it occurred to me that we could do a fully-remote version of the Mindful Moment Room. After discussing the idea with administration and working out some scheduling considerations, we were able to create the Virtual Mindful Moment Room. My goal is to continue offering the services that the space provides in a way that meets the needs of our community. Digital learning is now an integral part of how we teach and learn. The Virtual Mindful Moment Room is a way to reach the BHS community virtually to address some of the social and emotional needs of our students and staff.
What are you hoping students and staff get from it?
The hope is that staff and students will enjoy a few minutes of stress relief. This year has been particularly taxing and we all need this type of support more than ever. It didn’t feel right to have the space closed when there is such a high need for social and emotional support. Running the space virtually allows everyone to remain physically safe and socially distanced, while offering a respite to maintain and/or restore balance. The goal is to offer mindfulness techniques and other stress management skills for improved focus and concentration, greater control and awareness of thoughts and emotions, peaceful conflict resolution, improved self-regulation, and relaxation.
Can you explain what a virtual session is like?
Each session is 20 minutes long and runs from 1:45 to 2:05 pm on Thursday afternoons. Brewster High School community members can join using a Zoom link and are greeted upon arrival by me. The first few minutes are dedicated to preparing yourself and your space for practice. Then I lead a series of short mindfulness exercises, including breathing techniques, sound meditations (using chimes or bowls), and other guided activities. Minimal movement takes place as this is designed to be a seated practice. At the end, I share a simple thought or message before we close the session.
Are there any different challenges you face doing it this way?
One main challenge is that the Virtual Mindful Moment Room can only be accessed when there is a live session. If staff or students wish to practice mindfulness at other times during the day or week, it is up to them to practice independently. In previous years, the Mindful Moment Room at BHS was open daily and could be accessed any period of the day as needed.
Why do you think mindfulness is important?
I believe that mindfulness is a vital skill. It is a practice that can help you to understand yourself better, to recognize and regulate your emotions, to bring clarity, to create a calmer or more peaceful state of mind, and to feel connected. Emotional growth and maturity blossoms as practitioners develop these skills. Confidence, resiliency, adaptability, and responsibility are branches of this growth. Mindfulness is accessible to anyone and everyone. We all have a mind, we all breathe, we all experience stress. Mindfulness practices take this into account and the benefits of mindfulness can be experienced by all. I love helping others experience these benefits for themselves. Offering these virtual mindfulness sessions is a great way for us to stay connected while doing this important work.