The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 6 , 2014
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Shun mindless distractions, get mindful

- Rinpas combines tenets of Buddhism & yoga to help school-goers discover focus

Scores of new apps for the cellphone, hundreds of TV channels, too many windows open on the computer, virtual games with click-a-second commands — no wonder that your teen finds a 40 or 50 minute class “light-years long”.

Getting teenagers to focus is a challenge for every parent and teacher. But, Ranchi-based Rinpas, a leading mental health institute of eastern India, may be of help.

Recently, Rinpas fused the concept of mindfulness and yoga to teach 32 teenaged students between 13 and 15 years of nearby St Joseph’s School in Kanke, the art of concentration. It held classes for four months till May and documented the results in June and July.

The results showed significant improvement among students, encouraging Rinpas clinical psychology department head Dr Amool Ranjan Singh to ask the authorities of the government-aided minority high school to continue with it.

Mindfulness of body, feelings and sensations, mind and mental phenomena, referred by the Buddha as a direct path to nirvana, is a rage in the western world as a tool to increase focus in daily life.

If you are a wellness buff, chances are that you have read Frank Jude Boccio’s hugely popular book called Mindfulness Yoga, which integrates the concepts of Buddhism, meditation and fitness.

What Rinpas taught students of Classes VII and VIII was simpler.

For half an hour a day, students were asked to lie flat on the ground and breathe deeply. Then, they were asked to close their eyes and visualise what was happening around them.

As eyes were closed and posture relaxed, the mind became receptive. The challenge for students was to see how strong their powers of concentration were in understanding what went around them without opening their eyes.

“We found students were more focused, confident and showed greater powers of memory,” Amool Ranjan said.

With him were associate professor of yoga Dr P.K. Singh and clinical psychology research scholar Anand Kumar, both of Rinpas.

“We supervised students and spoke to their family members and schoolteachers about how mindfulness would help them. Students who practised it regularly performed exceptionally well in class tests and did better in sports. Behaviourally, they became more focused, social and disciplined compared to students who did not follow the process,” the clinical psychology expert said.

“Our research scholar Anand gave the 32 students sample question papers on physics, maths, chemistry and general knowledge. Students did really well,” Amool Ranjan added.

He added that the need of the hour was to help teens remove distractions while thinking. “Mindfulness in yoga helps improve physical and mental health if practised regularly,” he said. “Last year, we taught yoga nritya or dance meditation to students of DAV Public School, Gandhinagar. Even that was quite successful,” he added.