There is a school in which I have been asked to share the breathing, meditation and mindfulness techniques that Mindful Me offers, where the average age is 18.
These are students who have opted for a private and more personal way of matriculating and as a result their Principal and the teachers at the school are way ahead of the mainstream schooling in South Africa, in their attitude to mindfulness meditation. Infact, they sit alongside the students in the circle of chairs most mornings, with their eyes closed and their hands resting comfortably in their laps.
As always, I start each 30 minute session with a breathing technique. This has brought about some guffaws and giggles, but after a few tries of a new breathwork, I can see that the kids are feeling the benefits and enjoying the experience.
We then do a short “Mindful Moment”, where we take our awareness through our bodies
from the tops of our heads down to the soles of our feet, just bringing gentle awareness to each part of our body. Its a relaxing and grounding way to enter into meditation no matter the practice. I believe that this Mindful Moment can actually be used to settle anxiety, bring us back to the present moment, get us out of our habitual thinking patterns (our heads) and create personal calm anywhere, anytime, by simply turning inward. This Mindful Moment could also be called a quick Body Scan Meditation.
Now that the kids are settled, either with their eyes closed or gazing downwards, we practice watching the breath, or watching our thoughts, followed by any one of the 14 different mindfulness practices that I have chosen to fill this curriculum. These include:
- Loving Kindness meditation (Metta)
- Reflection on a past event that made you feel proud
- Visualisation of a future goal that you would like to achieve
- Awareness of gratitude
- Body scan for pain with allowing statement: “May I experience this pain without feeling bad or wrong”
- Affirmation repetition
Some of them love it, some of them think I’m nuts.
But at the end of every session we talk about what we experienced, whether it’s helpful and whether we can see how it might impact our everyday lives.
The Mindfulness in Schools Project in their “Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People” report states: ” The studies (also) show that adolescents who are mindful, either through their character or through learning, tend to experience greater well-being, and that being more mindful tends to accompany more positive emotion, greater popularity and having more friends, and less negative emotion and anxiety.”
Ultimately, what I hope to achieve by teaching teens mindful awareness, is to give them the freedom of choice that comes with that split second moment before we act – unconsciously and as a result of our conditioning. This moment alone can save hundreds of lives and change many many outcomes. Given a moment to consciously choose they may not act out in anger and whack that guy or take that toke when offered. They may think more carefully about their decisions and have more self compassion than we ever did. As a result they may learn to do what they love and love what they do through greater self awareness and not get stuck in a dead end desk job so that they can pay their bills. And they may even relate more deeply with the people in their lives than social media would have them do. Most of all they might find stillness and peacefulness in a stress filled life that seems to move faster and faster.
May it be so.