TEDxAmherst: Checking in With Yourself


Sophia Lauer

Kofi Charu Nat Turner speaking about mindfulness during his TED talk.

High school is stressful. Spending hours a day sitting hunched over small desks writing papers and taking notes only to go home and spend even longer working can take its toll on anyone. Not only is your body cramped, but you start to lose focus because you’re stressing over deadlines or upcoming tests.

Well, Kofi Charu Nat Turner, a professor at UMass Amherst has a practice for you. It’s called “Dynamic Mindfulness” and he has been bringing it to the inner city New Jersey schools for years now.

Turner claims that this practice can help reduce the depression and stress rates of students in high poverty schools. In turn, it will help end the pipeline from schools to prison, lower school shooting rates, and mental illness. He reasons, “if they’re in school they’re not shooting it up.”

He has worked with students who live in unsafe neighborhoods and deal with high crime rates, racism, and violence. These conditions make it even harder for students to attend and stay focused in school, but a few minutes a day to recenter and relax gives the students a goal. This method is a way to reflect on themselves, and process the emotions and stress they have in a healthy way.

But this practice isn’t exclusive to just inner city schools. It can be applied everywhere. In fact, Turner often holds quick sessions in between classes at UMass Amherst. He recommends just 15 minutes a day to check in with your body, stretch out, and do a mental check in.

While it may not seem like much, taking a few moments to focus on yourself can give you a much needed break and help prevent mental illnesses.

These ideas are explored more in his TED talk which will be released on the TEDx Youtube channel later this month.