WASHINGTON - Tara Brach has been teaching meditation for more than 30 years, and on Oct. 7 she will bring her expertise and insight on the practice to students, parents and teachers in Montgomery County, Md.
"The benefit of mindfulness is so clear that it enables people to reduce stress and make decisions from a much more rational mindset," says Brach, who is also an author and holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Brach defines mindfulness meditation as "the capacity to notice what is happening in the present moment without judgment," and she says the practice is proven to increase concentration and reduce stress, anxiety and aggression.
Because of these effects, Brach is on a mission to spread the practice to students and members of the community who interact most with students, such as parents and teachers.
"We hope to be able to introduce (mindfulness meditation) to all of the different strata in the community, because it works best that way," Brach says.
"The biggest question all parents and educators have is what enables young people to learn and really reach their potential. And there's been this major shift in understanding over the last 10 years that's pointed to emotional intelligence as being predictive of well-being, health, employment, everything," she says.
According to Brach, thousands of schools around the country have adopted programs in social and emotional learning. And while these programs range in specific exercises and lessons, the common denominator is mindfulness.
Since introducing the practice to students, Brach has received positive feedback. She says one student told her, "The thing about mindfulness is that when you are going to do something bad, you know it and you can stop."
Another student said, "I like mindfulness because it helps me feel better and teaches me to concentrate," and a high school sophomore told Brach she is less stressed before tests since learning to practice mindfulness.
Brach says another important reason for introducing mindfulness meditation to school systems is because it improves empathy.
"That's probably one of the biggest reasons if we have it in the school systems, it really helps children in their social relationships."
At the Oct. 7 event, Brach will lead attendees through a guided meditation and will provide an in-depth explanation on the practice and its benefits. Brach will also be joined by Rep. Tim Ryan of (D-Ohio), author of "A Mindful Nation."
Brach's presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Walt Whitman High School auditorium, 7100 Whittier Blvd., Bethesda, Md. The event is free and open to the public.
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