Common Ground is excited to strengthen our developing partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation (HLF) in Baltimore, MD. On November 4th, Director for Community Engagement (Phoebe Haupt) visited their program at an elementary school in Baltimore. As an experiential participant in the yoga and mindfulness offerings that HLF has been providing in public schools in inner city Baltimore for over ten years, Phoebe was able to see first-hand the tremendous value that HLF is bringing to this community: “What truly inspired me was the fact that 60 children (ages 4-10 years old) were completely silent for close to twenty minutes. Most educators would agree this is pretty miraculous. By simply bringing in and breathing out, this community of children joins a growing movement around the world of people who are benefiting physically, emotionally and mentally by the peace of mind and deep relaxation offered by these practices.
Many of the children that attend this school live in households and neighborhoods that experience a high level of violence and upheaval on a daily basis. These timeless tools are like medicine for children whose minds, bodies and spirits are aching to experience deep relaxation and even a few moments of inner peace. Yoga and mindfulness have a positive impact on an individual’s ability to cope with high levels of stress and even 20 minutes of deep breathing can produce a strong relaxation response within the body.
Academically, studies by neuroscientists have demonstrated that yoga increases the attention span, makes the brain work more effectively and calms down the amygdala so we can better process the information we are learning.
Common Ground is actively exploring how to partner with local service-providers, school administrators and mindfulness practitioners to help bring the work of HLF to Charlottesville. Their model is unique and powerful – not only are they offering mindfulness and yoga classes within the school system but they are doing this through instructors that reflect the cultural community of the students being served. The value of this second ingredient cannot be overemphasized. Ali, Atman and Andy of the Holistic Life Foundation are from the community that they serve and therefore are able to relate to the youth in deeply authentic ways. Please join us as we begin the conversation here in Charlottesville about how to bring this valuable model to our community. For more information or to get involved, please contact Phoebe Haupt: firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the work of the Holistic Life Foundation in Baltimore, please visit their website.