Mindful Moments

Mother-daughter-duo Sarah Taber and Luci Knopik along with English teacher, Kelly Finn, highlight the importance of mindfulness during the business of the school day.


by Tierney Flavin, Social Media Team

English teacher Sarah Taber and her daughter, sophomore Luci Knopik, wake up each morning and spend a few minutes together to prepare themselves for the day. This typically looks like listening to a mindfulness podcast (“10% Happier” or “Making Sense”) or simply just taking the time to breathe before the business of the day takes over. 

Taber has been working with these mindfulness strategies since she was in high school.

“I just grew up on a large ranch so I would often go on long solo walks and realized how good I felt afterward,” Taber said. “[It was] like a cleansing and filtering of the day’s interactions. Now, I realize that walking mindfulness allows for even more–creative ideas, solving problems, mood improvement, and spirituality.”

Knopik said that at first she did not understand why her mom was pushing her to practice mindfulness, but now she has seen the benefits of these practices through the stresses of school. Knopik defines their morning mindfulness moments as “a form of self care.”

“It really helps like being aware of my feelings and being aware of my breathing really affects how I act,” Knopik said. “It can be really hard when you’re stuck in a bad moment and you can’t be alone.”

English teacher Kelly Finn also practices and believes in the importance of mindfulness. 

“[Mindfulness strategies] profoundly changed my life,” Finn said. “They just shifted my outlook on life from being constantly sort of pushing and pushing and pushing to reach my next goal and recognizing that I can still achieve those goals and evolve as a person from a less frenzied standpoint.”

Finn began practicing mindfulness during a period of anxiety in her life after the birth of her third child and a subsequent struggle with the stigma surrounding mental health. 

“I had always thought of myself as being this really confident and capable person and I had mistakenly associated challenges with mental health as something that was wrong with me,” Finn said. “I had this view that I think ties into public stigma. I think what happened to me was really scary and frightening.”

Finn adds that her journey with mental health, aided by medical and meditative professionals around her, was guided by mindfulness and positive strategies. 

“I became aware that I could empower myself through balancing an approach that used both western medicine and some mindfulness and meditative strategies that helped ease the symptoms,” Finn said. “I’ve learned how to take some of those breathing strategies and relaxation strategies and layer them on throughout my day. Whether that’s just taking a moment to quiet myself and breathe, sometimes I just do it in my car.”

Taber believes this same mentality could be applied to students, that the many benefits to mindfulness would be helpful in the craziness of juggling school, work, college applications, social pressure and all of the other stressors that come with being a high school student. 

“[Mindfulness] can help if you’re feeling anxious, or it can help you on a philosophical level to understand how your mind and body work together,” Taber said. “It can help you focus better for tests and tough assignments, and it can help you see patterns of thinking you easily fall into that might need changing.”

Finn also believes that these strategies that she has found useful could be useful in the classroom. 

“Reminding [students] that you can be empowered by using some of these strategies that are pretty simple: like the four-breath technique,” Finn said. “I try to explain that those are little tools in your own private tool-kit…I also like to incorporate mindful moments into my classes because it’s part of learning. It’s part of how our brains take up information, preparing our brains to take in information.”

STA has both club and extracurricular activities for students that wish to incorporate mindfulness practices into their days. 

Finn is the proctor for the yoga and meditation extracurricular as well as the journaling club. There are also electives available for those who want some mindfulness in their bell schedules. 

Some students have also found ways to incorporate mindfulness strategies, some as simple as breathing patterns, into their days. Knopik highlights the importance of mindfulness in her life as a student. 

“Just… being able to consciously feel like you aren’t losing control at school or at work, knowing that there are things to bring you back,” Knopik said. “Because it can be really scary when you lose yourself in a moment of anxiety. So I think there’s something really peaceful in being able to breathe yourself back into a better headspace.”