Inner Strength and Peace for High School Students

I’m sure you’ll agree…

We live in uncertain times. At the moment, many people are experiencing high levels of anxiety and fear about the future.

High school students are working hard at school and participating actively in extracurricular activities. Many do not sleep enough and feel pressure from parents and teachers.

Having attended Harvard and a magnet high school for gifted high school students, I felt a lot of pressure growing up. I even remember getting asthma and having to take an inhaler when I was in high school due to all the stress I felt about succeeding academically!

But when I started a daily practice of yoga, my stress levels decreased and I was able to cure myself of the asthma. Since then, I’ve spent many years exploring how to live a more balanced life. And I’d like to share some of my insights with you:

1. ENJOY THE MYSTERY: Life will always have an element of uncertainty, as change is the only constant. Instead of resisting the unknown or being confident that you know what will occur in the future (who does?), enjoy the mystery of not knowing. Let go of your ideas and stories. Embrace uncertainty and allow it to enrich your life—this is the advice that Margie Warrell gives in her Forbes article “Why Embracing Uncertainty Is Critical To Your Success.”

2. FEEL: Learn to relax and accept whatever you’re feeling. Feel whatever comes up fully, and then feel beyond it to what is greater. Trying to be “beyond emotions” is an error that I’ve seen many people make, myself included. But what usually ends up happening is that our emotions get stuck or suppressed and come out in strange ways. Of course, I’m not recommending that we dramatize every angry thought or feeling of despair that is felt. But it is important to feel AND feel beyond it to what is greater. I love what Adi Da recommends: Feel to Infinity. And this can most gracefully occur when we also breathe fully.

3. BREATHE: Notice your breath. Is your breath full and even? Or is it frozen and shallow? Are you inhaling more than exhaling (or vice versa)? I have found that taking time to just breathe deeply each day helps me let go of accumulated stress and relaxes my whole body.

There are many resources to help you relax, feel and breathe more fully. If you’re serious about reducing stress in your life, then it’s important to take a few minutes every morning and evening and develop a daily routine of deep breathing. High school students and parents can easily do these exercises alone or together.

Here are some of my favorites—you can explore them all, but the real key is to “Just Do It!”

A. My friend and colleague Amy Edelstein (founder of the Inner Strength Foundation) teaches teenagers how to develop inner strength. I highly recommend her guided meditations for teenagers: http://www.innerstrengthfoundation.net/teens/#audio

B. Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard-trained physician, recommends a simple breathing technique that is very effective in reducing anxiety: https://www.drweil.com/…/the-4-7-8-breath-health-benefits-…/

C. Download the Insight Timer app on your smart phone and do the UCLA guided meditation from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: https://insighttimer.com/

If you try any of these exercises, let me know how it goes for you!

May you be at peace, always.