Tim Ryan walks through mindfulness exercises with Youngstown students

Eighth graders at Rayen Early College are reading the congressman's book, "A Mindful Nation"

By  Published: September 12, 2016, 4:38 pm Updated: 

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Eighth graders at Rayen Early College are studying Congressman Tim Ryan’s book “A Mindful Nation,” which discusses easy ways to reduce stress and improve oneself.

“It’s teaching me a lot on how to be mindful, to just stay here in the present,” said Ronald Grace, a student. “Learned how to control my emotions and how to be present and not, like, jump to the future.”

Ryan led the students’ group discussion on Monday with interactive activities so they could experience what the book is about firsthand. It’s part of the Ignite Grant, a multi-million dollar project with the Ohio State University Extension.

“Slow down on things, look around me, you know, the present. Not get too carried away with the future because if you worry too much about the future, you will miss the precious time you have about the present,” Brandon Ivory said.

Students only had to think about their breathing, nothing else. It might sound pretty easy, but they say it’s harder than it seems.

“It was hard because my mind decided to race in different places,” Aalissia Thomas said.

When she was able to block everything out, Thomas says she felt great.

“No matter what’s going on and how stressed I am, to calm myself and just to think about what’s actually going on around me and not what happened, and what’s going on in the present tense.”

Kids and teens have a lot going on in their lives. Some are even dealing with death and other serious issues. Ryan says stress reduction is the future of education and will fundamentally benefit students.

“These practices of just taking a few minutes to learn how to calm your mind down, learn how to discipline your mind. You know, we really need mental discipline in our schools today, and this is a very easy technique to teach and to learn,” Ryan said.

Eighth graders are just two chapters into the book, but are excited to dive into the rest. In the spring, they’ll go to Washington D.C. to visit the congressman and talk more about his book.

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