Could meditation help Long Island students?

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Anne Michaud, Long Island Newsday: A woman I had just met was so upset that she began to confide in me about her high school daughter. The girl had burst into tears when she got a 92 on a test, and she was concerned that if she didn’t attend a summer study program, she wouldn’t be able to compete with her peers for college admission.

“Why are kids so anxious now?” the mom asked. “Was life such a treadmill when we were young?”

This family lives in one of Long Island’s better public school districts — with plenty of academic pressure — but these questions are being raised all around. A poll released in December — conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health — said that 40 percent of parents believe their high school kids are stressed over school.

Admirably, some schools are trying what could be a stress antidote: mindfulness and meditation.

At Centennial High School, south of Baltimore, physics teacher and meditation instructor Stan Eisenstein is offering a 10-week course in mindfulness to 30 teens after school. The nonreligious course is based on Buddhist principles and shows students how to tune in to their bodily sensations and breath, as well as their thoughts and emotions. According to a story in The Baltimore Sun last month, Eisenstein calls these skills “a first-aid kit” for stress.

His course has become so popular that …

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