Meditation, stress reduction incorporated into physical education curriculum


Illustration by Ace Zhang

Meditation and stress reduction are becoming even more ingrained in the physical education curriculum during this period of remote learning.

Ella Beiser, Editor-In-Chief

During the school closure for the coronavirus pandemic, and as students have transitioned to remote learning, physical education department chair  Debbie Ribbens emphasized the importance of meditation and stress reduction in physical education classes.

“Well, I think meditation is important all the time,” Ms. Ribbens said. “but I think with all this remote learning, with COVID-19 and all that, meditation is critical every single day.”

According to Ms. Ribbens, regardless of what unit you are in, meditation and stress reduction is important.

“Everybody from my department kind of has their own little specialty and niche, and for some of our teachers to do a meditation with their classes, or do yoga with their classes they’re just really uncomfortable,” Ms. Ribbens said. “So I think we need to pool our resources for each other so we can bring the best classes to our students.”

Junior Roma Bhattacharjee, who was in Ms. Ribbens’ Yoga, Pilates and Zumba class, agreed that meditation was helpful during the stressful school day.

“The meditation was super helpful,” Roma said. “It was really nice that Ms. Ribbens had us take a few minutes for ourselves to de-stress because it’s nice to refocus and not think stressful or worrying thoughts, even if just for a few moments.”

According to Ms. Ribbens, meditation is a good break from school.  

“It gets them out of their own — I don’t want to say minds — but they get to decompress and just breathe and relax and get away from their work that they’re doing all day long.”

Ms. Ribbens recommends beginners use an app to help with guided meditation. 

“It’s nice if you can do it outside, but you need quiet, everything needs to be turned off, which is hard,” Ms. Ribbens said. “I think you just need to step away from what you’re doing and just sit and relax.”

So if you learn young how to deal with stress in a positive way, it’s really going to help you throughout your life.”

— Ms. Ribbens

According to Ms. Ribbens, at a high-stress school like U-High, meditation is even more important.

“We tried to make stress redux a mandatory class for all P.E. students because Lab is a very high-stress environment for students,” Ms. Ribbens said. “So I think it’s really good because stress is always going to be there, whether it’s high school stress or adult stress. So if you learn young how to deal with stress in a positive way, it’s really going to help you throughout your life.”

Having meditation be a required homework assignment has been helpful, according to Roma. 

“I probably wouldn’t have meditated if she hadn’t asked us to,” Roma said. “I don’t usually meditate on my own since I often feel like there are other things I should be doing. So the fact that it was technically required made me feel better about doing it, and I’m glad I did.”