Class Relax

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Observations from the field – February, January

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February 21, 2015

Unusual Week

This past week hosted Simulated Matriculation exams (‘Matkonnot’ in Hebrew) and I was unable to appear in 2 of the 4 classes in which I regularly conduct Class Relax sessions.

(Note to self: Schedule Class Relax before the real Matriculation exam in May)

I was, however, able to show up in two Grade 9 classes to screen the latest Guided Imagery meditation. It offers a chance to clear the mind while listening to the sounds of a running brook accompanied by piano chords. The instructions are simply to notice one’s breaths. The inhale and exhale count as “1”, the next set is “2”.  When thoughts appear and attention wanders, one is to notice and then come back to the count.

Guided Imagery in Nature
Guided Imagery in Nature

Observations: It’s very important that such a meditation be conducted in an atmosphere of community cooperation, in order to feel safe and truly free to let the imagination flow. I don’t count breaths for the students, I don’t impose my own rhythm of breathing. Therefore, they are on their own for a period of a few minutes.  If there’s quiet in the room, when the mind wanders off, a word from Class Relax can lead focus back to the here and now. Everyone in the room supports everyone else. When it works, it’s wonderful!

As a facilitator, I’m still experimenting with this particular Guided Imagery. But I received good reports from other teachers using it.

In one class, the teacher placed the meditation mid-way between her double lesson, at the end of the school day.

She said that her students look forward to Class Relax and are happy to participate. They enjoy the opportunity to put their head down on their desks and allow themselves to be led to a beautiful place. Afterwards, they are back in stride, ready to learn,able to comprehend new material, and more attentive to the tasks assigned.

I brought this meditation to my 10th grade class English class. They had arrived late to school after a class trip the night before to Tel Aviv and were still somewhat sleepy. The Guided Imagery in nature gave them a chance to exercise focus, without undo demands. One girl asked me if it was okay that she had counted 39 breaths!  Of course it was okay! How wonderful that she had maintained count for that long!

Along with Class Relax came the questions. How long have I been doing it? Does it get easier?

How long? I’ve been doing forms of meditation for over 40 years. I’ve been bringing meditation into classrooms for about 4 years. Does it get easier? Yes, it does! And what’s more, the practice shows up in different forms, and at various times.

As a teacher, I am grateful for all chances to do Class Relax and can see the benefits.  If, for example, a student manages to say something annoying, as I walk towards the student, I only have to bring my attention to my feet on the floor, notice my breathing, and by the end of that brief walk, I’ll be more likely to say something more mindful, rather than just blast off a response!

This is what I’m hoping for: that they, too, will take that short break to breathe and re-set their focus before responding mindlessly!

Observations from the field, this February.

Have a good week

Judih

January 7, 2015 – Health Week

Nofei Habsor school in the Western Negev engaged in its annual Health Week. I was invited to bring Class Relax to the attention of six Grade 7 classes and their adult companions for the day.

From one session to the next, I experimented with the elements I wanted them to consider: How they felt at the moment, what made a difference in their present experience and how it was possible to change their attention and even their perception of themselves.

The ideals are lofty, but the techniques were simple.

We began with what they knew. I wanted to find out if they knew anything about meditation. Some did, and many were curious. I asked them to extend their arms with closed fists. How did that feel? Some said ‘Tight!’ , ‘closed’ ‘fine’! Some said it hurt! I then asked them to release their palms, open to the ceiling. How did that feel? Some said: ‘Open!’, ‘free!’. Then I asked them to open their arms to the sides, palms upward. How did that feel? ‘Good!’ ‘Relaxed’ ‘ Ready’.

A very important phase is the shake-out element – to get the blood flowing in arms and feet. And it’s fun to stop and shake!

Tibetan Singing Bowl
Tibetan Singing Bowl

I brought out my Tibetan Singing Bowl. Did they know what it was? Some did! I struck it and then told them to just listen to the sound and to raise their finger when they couldn’t hear it any longer.

When some kids spoke, there were those who told them to be quiet to let them listen till the end.

Everyone was still as they listened to the vibrations and at which moment they could no longer hear them.

I then took a survey of the room. Who felt tired? (show of hands) Who felt hungry? Who felt energetic?

I assessed the situation and chose a meditation from Class Relax. Sometimes, the breathing meditations were best, sometimes the Wonderful Waiter and sometimes the listening meditation.

The Wonderful Waiter was used to direct excess energies or to wake up the sleepy.

After six sessions of careful listening to the tones, of counting breaths, of engaging in the Wonderful Waiter, I felt great. They also liked it! I had lots of good feedback, coming up to me, asking to come back even if their class was busy at another workshop.

The Wonderful Waiter hang drum/harp

The Wonderful Waiter
hang drum/harp

January 22

I was invited by teacher Dana to bring Class Relax to her English class.  She teaches 9th grade from 12:15 – 13:45. This is a difficult time for most kids. It’s just before lunch break and by then, they are tired of sitting.

I arrived at 13:00. I introduced myself and asked  if they had heard anything about meditation. Some people said it is ‘quiet’! (I liked that). One said ‘Vipassana’ and others knew that it was a 10-day experience.

I took a survey of the room. How did they feel? They were tired and felt a little hungry. We did the Wonderful Waiter. Then I brought them back to a state of learning and was ready to leave, when they asked their teacher for more. Dana gave the nod and I decided that The White Horse, a short guided imagery session would probably do the trick. We did it. They came out of the session, I wished them a wonderful day and I left the room.

Later, Dana told me that one girl who never participates at that time of day was fully on task as they studied adjectives! Other kids were also ready and focused.

As she shared that with me, another teacher told me that her grade 7 class had asked her to do Class Relax for them.

Okay, I say! Onward.

Usability Study

I’m looking for teachers to do a usability study for a month. Would you like to participate? Do you know others who would?

Please, add comments. Come be part of the effort to  help our teachers and students to become more focused!

– Judih

Class Relax

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One thought on “Observations from the field – February, January

  1. Pingback: Observations: March edition | Class Relax

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