Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review: A Mindful Nation

A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit by Tim Ryan

Reviewed by Susie Berry

This author, Tim Ryan, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 at the age of 29. He is serving his fifth term and is focusing on improving the economic and social well-being of his constituents in Northeast Ohio. And now he is an author!

Ryan practices “mindfulness” each day and has researched how this practice of quiet thinking and quiet breathing can help war veterans, abusers, abuse victims, educators, and students. One of his researchers claims that time spent on mindfulness is time well spent. Jon Kabat-Zinn says that “we can be calm, open, attentive, and gentle, no matter how stressed out and self-absorbed we’ve become.” We can teach our children this same skill. Ryan says that kids who can regulate their emotions will do better in school. He says that kids who practice mindfulness will be more attentive and less distracted both at school and at home.

Ryan observed real public school classrooms and watched teachers help kids learn to be “mindful.” He watched classes of students learn about their brains and their emotions. He introduced us to several projects and the schools that were supporting them. Neuroscience supports this method of working with kids and now data is being collected to document its success.

Ryan feels strongly about these programs and is confident of their continued success. These ideas and programs sure feel healthier to me than adding another test to a child’s school day.

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