WARREN - A skeleton crew from CBS News' "60 Minutes" spent Monday morning filming Congressman Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, as he spoke about his philosophy of mindfulness with a class of first-graders at Warren Lincoln K-8.
Meditation and critical thinking are not foreign concepts to the two dozen students in Diane Holland's class. In fact, during Ryan's visit, several of the students were taking advantage of the "peace corner," where they are able to sort through issues with one another in a calm and respectful manner.
"It started for me four years ago when my son was deployed to Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine. I needed something for myself to remain calm, and turned to meditation and yoga. Now it works for the children," Holland said.
Tribune Chronicle / Margaret Thompson
U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, chats with Warren Lincoln K-8 first-grader Rose Strother after talking with the class about mindfulness. Iokasti Tsantes, center, and Everett Miranda, right, are also pupils in Diane Holland’s class.
She implements the "Skills for Life" curriculum with her students that includes practices like the peace corner, speaking in calm tones, and spending three minutes "belly breathing" to soothe and refocus the students after their lunch break. Holland said she has seen great improvement with the class, including better test scores, since Ryan's first visit to the class in the fall.
"I have hard data on it. We've had no office referrals. They solve their own problems with each other," she said.
The students in her class, were excited to share what they have learned from the stress reduction practices with the television crew, she said.
Ryan has been preaching mindfulness for the past several years, having authored the book "A Mindful Nation" on the topic.
"It's not a quick fix or a fad science. It changes how the brain works," Ryan said.
As part of the "60 Minutes" program, Ryan was also filmed in California at a retreat teaching workers from Google, Yahoo and other technology-based companies about mindfulness.
"If that is what Google is looking for, we need to start teaching our kids now," he said.
Ryan will also be filmed discussing the performance improving practices in Washington with his congressional counterparts.
"It's the same thing, to learn how to respond versus to react," he said.
Ryan said his initial focus is on students, and on veterans who are at risk for committing suicide, an action he said the mindfulness techniques can be useful in deterring.
Ryan was also filmed at the General Motors Corp. Lordstown Complex for the show.
The footage will be aired in the fall in a segment hosted by Anderson Cooper.