All Kinds of News for September 13, 2017
“I just feel better.” “I have more energy.” “I feel calmer.” “I feel more confident and happier!” “I’m less anxious.”
These are some of the positive comments that we hear from our students about the benefits that they receive from exercise and mindful movement practices like yoga. Many of us notice these benefits when we exercise and engage in activities with a meditative focus. There is now abundant research supporting the great benefits of these practices for physical and mental health and well-being. Yet many of us still struggle to make these practices a regular part of our daily life. It isn’t surprising that teens in treatment, who can benefit so greatly from exercise and meditative practices, also struggle to engage in them. As our clinical director Mike Beswick is fond of reminding us, it is often the very thing that is the most difficult for us to do that is the most needed for the change we wish to experience.
At Greenbrier Academy we have recently started a mind/body fitness class that includes practices that help both with physical fitness and mental/emotional regulation through integrated mind/body practices. We call this class “Balanced Body and Mind.” This integrative approach is informed by the therapeutic model that guides all our work at Greenbrier -- “Strong Relationality.” This theoretical approach emphasizes the importance of healing the whole person by bringing virtue to our relationships. This includes all relationships, both intra-personal (within the “parts of the person”) relationships and interpersonal (between the individual and others) relationships.
The current Balanced Body and Mind class at Greenbrier incorporates our relationality approach by helping girls heal their relationships with themselves and others in three ways. First, it helps them to heal their relationship with their body, mind and emotions through encouraging a caring and nurturing attitude towards themselves, rather than a judging and rejecting attitude. It also teaches them to use body-based practices like exercise, breathing and mindful movement to heal and re-regulate emotional and mental and physical imbalances. Secondly, it helps them to heal their relationships with others by encouraging them to bring virtue to their peer relationships as they support each other in class and out in these healthy practices. We do this by having the girls work in supportive teams and encouraging peer leadership and peer teaching wherever possible. Third, it helps them heal and develop their relationship with their “holon.” By holon we mean the interconnected web of all relationships in a person’s life, including social and spiritual relationships. It does this by creating a space for meditative focus which invites them to become more open to their relationship with whatever greater source of inspiration and strength they experience in their life. This in turn can encourage them on their path to self-discovery and a sense of purpose in life.
The class consists of two days a week of running/walking and other cardiovascular and strength training activities and two days a week of mindful movement practices, meditative focus and breath awareness exercises, commonly known as yoga. Staff members also participate as much as possible to model for and encourage students. It makes an impression on the girls when they see the school residential and academic directors, their teachers and therapists and the executive director out there running and doing yoga with them. This is putting our philosophy into action in a very tangible and experiential way -- and it can be fun as well.
And as with many healthful habits, more practice leads to feeling better -- which increases motivation to continue!
About Greenbrier AcademyGreenbrier Academy is an all-girls' therapeutic boarding school. The mission at Greenbrier Academy is to mentor and empower adolescent girls and their families to create quality, healing intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships through inspired critical thinking, advanced therapeutics, college prep academics, and stimulating adventures.