Busy Lives, Calm Minds 6

Corner Canyon’s new Meditation Club helps students reduce stress, live in the present and focus

Corner Canyon High School senior Beck Seamons knows what it is like to be an overscheduled teen. On top of school work, he’s one of the captains of the Corner Canyon mountain bike team, plays piano at The Roof Restaurant downtown, is on the Draper Mayor’s Youth Council and performs with an English handbell quartet.

It might not come as a surprise that he was feeling overwhelmed. So, he did something about that.  

“I took a six-week meditation course,” he says, “and noticed the effect that it had in my life. It brought a sense of peace and stability.”

Beck’s life benefited from mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation that only requires one to sit, pay attention to the breath, and, when the mind wanders (as it will), return the attention to the breath. Beck, along with his brother Van and classmate Emmie McCormick have all used this to help find balance in their busy lives.

They recently started a free, after-school mindfulness meditation club with the hope other students will join and practice mindfulness meditation together on a regular basis.

In addition to a guided group meditation at each meeting, the club features guest speakers and explores topics such as eating mindfully, gratitude journals, yoga and different meditation styles. Students can use the club as a base to develop their own practice.

Beck tries to meditate daily and works to establish a regular time so he can “set the habit” more easily. The club helps that goal—bringing a positive spin on peer pressure—in that everyone practices together on a regular basis.

“Meditation can be related to brushing your teeth,” Beck says. “You can’t just brush your teeth one day for a few hours and not brush your teeth for the rest of the week. It needs to be continuous for it to actually work. [It is forming] a good habit.”

His brother, Van, a freshman, is also a busy student as well as an Eagle Scout, a pianist, member of the PTSA student club and Draper Mayor’s Youth Council, and plays on two basketball teams. Oftentimes he found that his mind wandered during class. With his mom’s encouragement, he tried meditating 20 minutes each morning using the app Headspace.

“I feel more on top of things,” he says, “and I see a difference in the quality of my work.”

McCormick also packs a lot into her day. She’s a member of the National Honors Society, PTSA and Peer Leadership Team, and works 30 hours a week at a pharmacy and takes a class to become a pharmacy tech. Her meditation practice keeps her focused.

“I have so many things I am doing,” she says. “Mindfulness meditation helps me put it into perspective, helps me focus on the present and take one thing at a time.”

Corner Canyon High School’s Spanish teacher and soccer coach Andrew Van Wagenen attended the club’s first meeting in October both to support the students and to learn more about a practice that he says has had a major impact on his life. Everyone benefits from mindfulness, he says.

“This is a critical and valuable tool for kids, especially at this stage in their lives,” he says. “Emotions are crazy…their days are overbooked with school, sports and extracurricular activities. Having mindfulness helps them be aware of what’s around them, their behavior, their emotions and addictive behaviors they may get into.”

Van Wagenen uses guided meditation with his soccer players noting the strong connection between mindful awareness and improved sports performance. But, he says, athlete or not, every student benefits from what he calls “a brain break.”

The Seamons and McCormick said that the response to their club has been positive and that they’re considering a twice-monthly meeting. Students may have busy lives, but practicing mindfulness meditation lets them live that life with better awareness.

“Meditating strengthens the part of our brain that helps us stay present and calm, so when we can do that, we can make the best decisions,” Beck says. “We can’t change the past, and the only way to affect the future is to make the best decisions in the present moment, and meditation helps us learn how to do that…to help calm our minds, so we aren’t worried about the past or stressed about the future.”