Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Of One Mind

Reviving an ancient practice: focus



Jessica Knopke leads a breathing exercise where each child blows a gentle, slow breath on a feather to make it “wiggle and dance”

Photos by Rana Faure

Jessica Knopke enters a classroom at ThistleWaithe Learning Center and asks the young children to form two lines. She selects two to distribute mini-yoga mats to classmates and quietly demonstrates how to lay it on the floor. The children follow. They all breathe in and out and then a young girl chimes a bowl as her classmates put their hands on their stomachs to feel their breath.

Knopke then leads a breathing exercise: each child blows a gentle, slow breath on a feather to make it “wiggle and dance” in the air. Once all feathers have been collected, Knopke calmly leads them in a conversation about difficult emotions and how to use their breath to make themselves feel better. 

In approximately 20 minutes, Knopke has taught a room of three and four year olds one of the most essential mindfulness skills, and they all understood. “Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment without judgment,” Knopke, owner of Lily Pad Yoga, explains. “When we practice mindfulness, we can manage difficult emotions, be kind to ourselves and each other, and pause before we react.”

It is believed that the concept of mindfulness dates back to approximately 1500 BCE as part of the Hinduism practice of yoga.

In the past few years, mindfulness has experienced resurgence in the United States. Recently, educators and mental-health professionals are recognizing the benefits of teaching mindfulness to children. 

Ridgefield High School’s Maggie Meriwether teaches a health and wellness class for seniors. When Meriwether chose to include a section on stress management, she knew that mindfulness was the correct approach.

“By teaching mindfulness, I’m helping students learn about another tool they can access in their tool kit,” she says. “They’ve learned a breathing exercise and an actual meditation or two. It’s an introduction to the practice, and if they are interested, I provide them with resources to learn more.”

One of the key concepts of mindfulness is the ability to focus on the specific moment. It helps you concentrate on the task. These lessons are impactful and help students prepare for or take a test, during sports, or even in home and social settings. 

“About a month or two after I taught mindfulness to one of my classes, a student approached me,” Meriwether recalls. “He had gone to visit a college last weekend and was with friends. They got some food and the weather was perfect. He remembered our mindfulness lesson and focused on being in that moment. He said he really enjoyed being present, and thanked me. Mindfulness helped him recognize the that experience.”

Kristen Kleis, a Spanish teacher at Scotts Ridge Middle School, has also witnessed the benefits of teaching mindfulness. She begins each class with yoga and breathing exercises. Because of a grant she received from the Ridgefield Education Foundation, Kleis studied both yoga and mindfulness programs designed for schools. She learned that the best way to teach these skills is by example.

“They often see mindfulness in myself and my reactions to situations,” Kleis explains. “If something falls off of my desk and breaks, my first reaction is to take a deep breath and say, ‘I’m upset right now, so I’m just going to breathe.’ Then they see me actually breathing. Or I say, ‘That makes me angry, but I understand. I’m going to take a few deep breaths and then move on.’ Whatever emotion I’m experiencing, I say it out loud. I really try hard to use it to manage my own behavior because I am the role model in the classroom.”

In addition to her daily classroom lessons in mindfulness, Kleis does Yoga Fridays, when students learn a combination of Spanish and yoga, and she also offers an after school mindfulness and yoga program. 

A combination of students, parents, and teachers regularly approach Kleis with stories of how mindfulness has benefitted their lives. Many of her colleagues are interested in including mindfulness in their classrooms, understanding that educating the whole child is important to their success. 

From preschool through high school, mindfulness makes a difference. “When children learn these skills and grow with them, it’s amazing,” says Knopke. “If they feel nervous, anxious or fearful, they are not in a position to learn. Mindfulness gives them strategies to feel calmer. It works.”

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

         

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

Weekend activities and events in the area
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Spring Fling

Decluttering your life for a refreshed you

Beyond the Bounce House

Simple treats can add a special touch

Run, Mom, Run

Run Like a Mother 5k on Mother's Day––May 14

Tying the Knot Abroad

Going Far Away to get closer together

Garden Envy

A Nod Hill Charmer is Blooming and Beautiful

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

April 2017

Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan.  This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and...

Cost: free

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Silvermine Arts Center
Website »

More information

“SPECTRUM 2017:  Grayscale”Carriage Barn Arts Center, home to the New Canaan Society for the Arts will host its 27th annual Spectrum Contemporary Art Show.  Spectrum is a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Avenue
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Society for the Arts
Telephone: 120-397-21895
Contact Name: Hilary Wittmann
Website »

More information

Families with children age 12 and under are invited to join in the fun at the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce Kids Festival on Sunday, April 23, 2017 from 10 am to 4 pm in a NEW LOCATION! ...

Cost: Free with nominal fee to enter Inflatable Fun area

Where:
Fairfield County Bank Operations Center parking lo
94 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-438-5992
Contact Name: Jennifer Zinzi
Website »

More information

SilverSource – a leader in advocating for the needs of older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2017 SilverSource Awards.  The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource
2009 Summer Street
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Linda Christensen
Website »

More information

 A documentary film inspiring Ridgefielders to love one another. Join your community members for either of two showings of the inspirational independent documentary, Weapons of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Prospector Theater
25 Prospect St
Ridgefield, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Music on the Hill presents 12 pro voices performing music of Bach, Buxtehude, Monteverdi, and Charpentier in a celebration of Easter gone Baroque. Artistic director Ellen...

Cost: $20 in advance; $25 at the door; students, free.

Where:
Wilton Presbyterian Church
48 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

Two of the country's top emerging musicians, cellist Julian Schwartz and pianist Marika Bournaki will present a program of works written by Jewish composers and in particular Jewish-...

Cost: donation

Where:
Congregation Shir Shalom
46 Peaceable St.
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Danbury Music Centre
Telephone: 203-438-6589
Contact Name: Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 22 through Tuesday, April 25 Wilton Library’s Annual Gigantic Book Sale Saturday, April 22: 7 – 9 a.m. Early Buyers with $15 admissions fee, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. free...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 120-376-23950
Website »

More information

When Mulan learns that her ailing father is drafted into Khan’s army, she protects him by serving in his place. Disguised as a man, she risks everything to maintain family honor and earn the love...

Cost: $15

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
10 E Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Paloma Hutton
Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Paloma Hutton
Website »

More information

WHAT: "End of the Rainbow," a play with music by Peter Quilter. It's December 1968 and Judy Garland is about to make her comeback...again. In a London hotel room, with both her new...

Cost: $30-$55

Where:
Music Theatre of Connecticut
509 Westport Ave
Norwalk, CT  06851
View map »


Sponsor: Music Theatre of Connecticut
Telephone: 203-454-3883
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan.  This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and...

Cost: free

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Silvermine Arts Center
Website »

More information

“SPECTRUM 2017:  Grayscale”Carriage Barn Arts Center, home to the New Canaan Society for the Arts will host its 27th annual Spectrum Contemporary Art Show.  Spectrum is a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Avenue
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Society for the Arts
Telephone: 120-397-21895
Contact Name: Hilary Wittmann
Website »

More information

SilverSource – a leader in advocating for the needs of older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2017 SilverSource Awards.  The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource
2009 Summer Street
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Linda Christensen
Website »

More information

Tamsin Greig is Malvolia in a new twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy of mistaken identity. A ship is wrecked on the rocks. Viola is washed ashore but her twin...

Cost: Ticket Price: $25 | Members & Seniors $20 | Students $15

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield , CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday, April 22 through Tuesday, April 25 Wilton Library’s Annual Gigantic Book Sale Saturday, April 22: 7 – 9 a.m. Early Buyers with $15 admissions fee, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. free...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 120-376-23950
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan.  This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and...

Cost: free

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Silvermine Arts Center
Website »

More information

“SPECTRUM 2017:  Grayscale”Carriage Barn Arts Center, home to the New Canaan Society for the Arts will host its 27th annual Spectrum Contemporary Art Show.  Spectrum is a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Avenue
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Society for the Arts
Telephone: 120-397-21895
Contact Name: Hilary Wittmann
Website »

More information

SilverSource – a leader in advocating for the needs of older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2017 SilverSource Awards.  The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource
2009 Summer Street
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Linda Christensen
Website »

More information

SEVEN-TIME GRAMMY AWARD WINNER Buddy Guy is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and a pioneer of Chicago’s fabled West Side sound, and a living link to the city’s halcyon days of...

Cost: Tickets: Orchestra $110 | Mezzanine & Balcony $95

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield , CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday, April 22 through Tuesday, April 25 Wilton Library’s Annual Gigantic Book Sale Saturday, April 22: 7 – 9 a.m. Early Buyers with $15 admissions fee, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. free...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 120-376-23950
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan.  This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and...

Cost: free

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Silvermine Arts Center
Website »

More information

Each year, in memory of one of our founding Board members, Helen Hermes, we take a leisurely stroll down our stream side trail to discover some of her favorite spring ephemerals. Trout Lily, Rue...

Cost: Free

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

“SPECTRUM 2017:  Grayscale”Carriage Barn Arts Center, home to the New Canaan Society for the Arts will host its 27th annual Spectrum Contemporary Art Show.  Spectrum is a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Avenue
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Society for the Arts
Telephone: 120-397-21895
Contact Name: Hilary Wittmann
Website »

More information

SilverSource – a leader in advocating for the needs of older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2017 SilverSource Awards.  The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource
2009 Summer Street
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Linda Christensen
Website »

More information

With a legacy of releases and countless U.S. and international tours behind them, the Indigo Girls have forged their own way in the music business. Selling over 14 million records, they are...

Cost: $70

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield , CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan.  This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and...

Cost: free

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Silvermine Arts Center
Website »

More information

Thursday, April 13, 20, 27 & May 4 Spring Poetry with Judson Scruton: Over Here, Over There – The World War One Poets, 10:30 – noon. Judson Scruton leads this 4-part Spring Poetry Seminar...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 120-376-23950
Website »

More information

“SPECTRUM 2017:  Grayscale”Carriage Barn Arts Center, home to the New Canaan Society for the Arts will host its 27th annual Spectrum Contemporary Art Show.  Spectrum is a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Avenue
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Society for the Arts
Telephone: 120-397-21895
Contact Name: Hilary Wittmann
Website »

More information

Fleur De Lis Antiques and Design is having a Huge Spring Tent Sale Thursday April 27th-Saturday April 29th from 11-5pm. Did you know we were right in your own back yard? We are tucked away...

Cost: free

Where:
Fleur De Lis Antiques and Design
4 Long Ridge
Redding , CT  06896-1111
View map »


Sponsor: Fleur De Lis
Telephone: 203-664-1673
Contact Name: Dottie DeLuca
Website »

More information

SilverSource – a leader in advocating for the needs of older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2017 SilverSource Awards.  The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource
2009 Summer Street
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Linda Christensen
Website »

More information

Carvel®… America’s Freshest Ice Cream® is kicking off ice cream season by celebrating their annual Free Cone Day next Thursday, April 27, from 3-8 p.m. EST Guests who visit...

Cost: Free

Where:
Carvel Nationwide
, CT


Sponsor: Carvel®
Website »

More information

Join exhibiting artist Suzanne McClelland and master glass artist and UrbanGlass instructor Dorie Guthrie for this special workshop in The Studio at the Museum.  Experiment with bending glass...

Cost: $50; $40 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan.  This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and...

Cost: free

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Silvermine Arts Center
Website »

More information

“SPECTRUM 2017:  Grayscale”Carriage Barn Arts Center, home to the New Canaan Society for the Arts will host its 27th annual Spectrum Contemporary Art Show.  Spectrum is a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Avenue
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Society for the Arts
Telephone: 120-397-21895
Contact Name: Hilary Wittmann
Website »

More information

Discover how Suzanne McClelland uses various materials and a range of art-making methods in her exhibition Just Left Feel Right, combining collage, drawing, and painting. Experiment with images,...

Cost: $15 per adult and one child; $12 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

Fleur De Lis Antiques and Design is having a Huge Spring Tent Sale Thursday April 27th-Saturday April 29th from 11-5pm. Did you know we were right in your own back yard? We are tucked away...

Cost: free

Where:
Fleur De Lis Antiques and Design
4 Long Ridge
Redding , CT  06896-1111
View map »


Sponsor: Fleur De Lis
Telephone: 203-664-1673
Contact Name: Dottie DeLuca
Website »

More information

SilverSource – a leader in advocating for the needs of older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2017 SilverSource Awards.  The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource
2009 Summer Street
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Linda Christensen
Website »

More information

      Clay Art Center One-Time Cladies Night for Adults Interested in Learning to Use the Potter’s Wheel   Looking for something relaxing, creative and...

Cost: 50

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Telephone: 914-937-2047
Contact Name: Nancy Yates
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan.  This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and...

Cost: free

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Silvermine Arts Center
Website »

More information

“SPECTRUM 2017:  Grayscale”Carriage Barn Arts Center, home to the New Canaan Society for the Arts will host its 27th annual Spectrum Contemporary Art Show.  Spectrum is a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Avenue
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Sponsor: New Canaan Society for the Arts
Telephone: 120-397-21895
Contact Name: Hilary Wittmann
Website »

More information

Celebrate spring and opening day at Hollister House Garden. The early garden is gentle with only a hint of the exuberance to come later in the season. Come join us as we welcome a new season in...

Cost: $5

Where:
Hollister House Garden
300 Nettleton Hollow Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Hollister House Garden
Telephone: 860-868-2200
Contact Name: Pamela Moffett
Website »

More information

Fleur De Lis Antiques and Design is having a Huge Spring Tent Sale Thursday April 27th-Saturday April 29th from 11-5pm. Did you know we were right in your own back yard? We are tucked away...

Cost: free

Where:
Fleur De Lis Antiques and Design
4 Long Ridge
Redding , CT  06896-1111
View map »


Sponsor: Fleur De Lis
Telephone: 203-664-1673
Contact Name: Dottie DeLuca
Website »

More information

SilverSource – a leader in advocating for the needs of older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2017 SilverSource Awards.  The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource
2009 Summer Street
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Linda Christensen
Website »

More information

New Pond Farm (101 Marchant Rd., West Redding) is hosting an astronomy program that is open to the public on Saturday April 29th starting at 8:30 p.m. In celebration of International Astronomy Day...

Cost: $4 per New Pond Farm member, with a maximum of $16 per family, and $6 per non-me

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags