So my latest news is that I had the privilege of taking my first group of school teachers through an “Introduction to Breathing, Meditation and Mindfulness” this past month. I currently teach 360 children there Yoga every week, but the founder of Christel House was recently introduced to the power of mindfulness to change behaviour and so the principal of the school invited me to do a one hour workshop on the topic.
I wanted to give the teachers a good understanding of:
- what mindfulness is and how it differs from meditation
- what mindfulness and meditation do for the brain
- the benefits of breathing, meditation and mindfulness
- a personal experience of practicing mindfulness
- some practices that they could use in their classrooms with their students to invite more mindfulness
- some mindfulness practices that the school could use on the whole
It was just an hour long session and we had a lot to get through in that time, but I believe the teachers’ walked away with both a deeper understanding of what these practices are and why we do them. (We will be completing a further three hour session together in the June/July holidays.)
Fundamental to achieving this was Ted Talk: “After watching this, your brain will not be the same” by Lara Boyd.
This video raised our awareness of the fact that it takes different people, different lengths of time to learn and that the practice of something over and over again is what is paving the way for new behaviour to unfold. So just like the butterfly
who has to push his wings against the inside of the cocoon to escape and have the muscles he needs in his wings to fly, we must try, fail and try again to learn this new life skill called mindfulness. This is also why patience and compassion are so very important when teaching it. Some children will learn mindfulness and get the benefits of mindful behaviour earlier than others, so we as teachers also need to inspire practice and be the source for more and more practice, as much as we can.
To help you with this, consider purchasing my first Mindful Me booklet for just R135 including postage and take some time every day as best you can, to just be with yourself in a non-judgemental way. Practicing a breathing technique or a meditation.
We also practiced mindful eating on the day and I had feedback from one of the teachers the next day to say that this had sparked interest in her and that she and her family had had a discussion about it that evening. The starting point for realising that we can be more mindful is of course realising that we are not mindful….with our food, our thoughts, our breath, our words, our actions…….and so we practice.
Here is a lovely poster from mindful.org.
Now a couple of weeks later, with all the rain in Cape Town at long last, and exams happening in the hall, I am going to be using my yoga time with each class to introduce them to Mindful Me with the Teachers present so that they can see first hand how to invite the children to discover that peace is personal and available to us all the time, if only we know where to look.
We will practice 5 finger breathing, do a mindfulness of body and breath exercise, sit
in silent meditation for a short while and close with a sharing round about what we are most grateful for in our lives. This connecting to gratitude for what we do have goes a very long way to heal the hurt from what we don’t have. So I enjoy including it for the kids in all my sessions.
And who says you need to be a child to practice 5 finger breathing anyway!