As a teacher working in urban neighborhoods in the Sacramento City Unified School District, Geoffrey Taylor witnessed firsthand an environment where mindfulness was virtually nonexistent. His students were more worried about their next meal or where the gunshots in their neighborhood where coming from.
The trauma of growing up in such conditions often affected performance at school.
Taylor tried various mindfulness tools in an attempt to restore peace and cohesion in the classroom, but lacked proper training.
“Having a background in education and understanding the importance of mindfulness in the classroom and the way it overlaps with other methodologies such as PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) or restorative practices, it was very powerful to see how that integration between the practice and the theory could really flourish,” he said.
It wasn’t until Taylor returned to Bakersfield and connected with Stephen and Katherine Winters of Samsara Wellness Center that everything came together.
In July 2018, White Wolf Wellness Foundation was established.
White Wolf Wellness Foundation aims to change Kern County through targeted wellness and community-improvement initiatives that can transform lives and reshape neighborhoods for good by providing physical and mental wellness practices to those who may not have access to them directly.
With Taylor’s background as an educator and Stephen and Katherine’s passion for spreading wellness to all, the trio began working with local schools to bring mindfulness to the classroom.
“We think that understanding yourself, learning to control your breath and help condition, maintain and heal your body should be just as available and normal as math, as science, as PE,” Stephen said. “These things can make a huge difference and have no negative side effects and very little overhead. Once you learn the practices, there’s stuff you can do at your will whenever you need them.”
On Nov. 16, 2018, White Wolf Wellness taught a yoga class at Colonel Howard Nichols Elementary School, leading third-graders through a series of exercises to connect them with their breath and find calmness.
“Taking a breath in is the first thing you do when you’re born, it’s the last thing you do when you die,” Stephen said. “The breath is a great way to connect to that natural part of yourself, that is a natural part of nature, that is a natural part of the planet, the cosmos, everything. A lot of anxiety, a lot of anger, a lot of uncontrollable emotions come from one being in conflict with their environment.”
On Jan. 25, 2019, White Wolf Wellness held an educator training with the Bakersfield City School District, working with over 50 behavioral specialists and teaching them basic self-care techniques to engage their students.
“We look forward to reaching out to every local school district that will have us and working with as many teachers in Kern County as we can to make mindfulness the norm,” Taylor said. “Kern County overwhelmingly is a place where there’s immense affluence but there’s also immense poverty. Mindfulness bridges that gap. It’s empowering kids to be their best and empowering teachers to help them reach that.”