Class Relax

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May Workshop – 3rd Meeting “Language of Attentiveness”

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May 27th Meeting

 by aritist geralt, pixabay

by aritist geralt, pixabay

This image, by geralt on pixabay, is descriptive of this 3rd meeting of “Safat haKeshev” with my 8th grade group.

As usual, I was both nervous and excited about meeting the kids. Who would come? How would they respond to the techniques of mindfulness? Would they learn something? Anything?

I truly didn’t know what to expect since there’d been signs that the novelty factor was no longer enough to hook the interest of one of the boys. And not everyone was enamoured of the idea of practicing mindfulness

Breathing to Chinese flute

Breathing to Chinese flute

I worked my pre-meeting rituals – arranging the space, adjusting the temperature, setting out my props. Shoes off, I turned on my favourite Chinese bamboo flute music as a delicate mind enhancer as I practiced a  breathing meditation.

Relaxation is the key to be able to be alert to what’s going on within and around me.

.

The children entered, took their spaces. Two boys wanted to hug cushions. I took note, acknowledged how good it feels to hug something, but asked them to leave them on the floor so others could sit on them.

Note to self: Mindful Cushion Hugging – could easily be incorporated into the session. 

The kids had no comments or questions, so I addressed a question from the previous week. What was that singing bowl of mine? Where can you get one?

We had a singing bowl experiment – I asked them to listen to the kinds of sounds and then I invited a few to open the palm of their hand, hold the bowl and feel the vibrations when the bowl was struck.

“What is ‘vibrations’?” asked one girl.  I explained and let her feel them.

Ah. the simple joy of noticing vibrations. Isn’t life wonderful? (I think to myself)

Next, we carried on to noticing our breathing.

It’s true, I said, we all breathe. We don’t need to learn how, but sometimes it’s easier to notice it if we make a little change.

Straws!

Straws!

I pulled out the straws (thank you Rina Tal for the idea). We examined them and then used them to breathe – inhaling through our nose, exhaling through the straw.

We then tried to sync the timing – timing the inhalation and then noticing the exhalation.  No dizziness? I asked. No, they responded.

Straws aside – there were no comments.

Unsually quiet, I thought. Something’s up…

We headed ‘mindfully’ over to the floorspace to do t’ai chi warm-up.

For the first time in the session, there was chat going on. Boys were looking at girls – aha! Grade 8-ness had shown up, making it very difficult to simply notice one’s own body while doing the warm-ups. (Note to self: make a comment about that next week – what happens when others chat, or look at me. Can I gather my concentration and continue?)

I tried to pull them in. I reminded them out work is to notice our ‘own’ bodies.

I reminded them that there was no need to speak.

At the end of the familiar warm-up, I added the ‘Tree’. I had their attention. Something new, something challenging.

Vector - Woman practicing yoga, tree pose
Vector – Woman practicing yoga, tree pose

And then cool down.

My plan was to stretch the Chi Cong movements – to direct their attention to how they moved via the mention of yin/yang.

This worked for a few of the movements, but the former chatty situation re-surfaced.

I suggested that they turn their backs to the center – facing the wall and that I’d walk around to show them each pose. This idea was a relief to the girls (not having to be watched), but it was hard for them to simply wait till I came around the circle to illustrate the pose.

(Note to self: teach self-regulation – have them mindfully wait till I come round)

or I could also just go an easier way: Have them line up along the length of the room and face me.

We cooled down. They were tired and asked for the mats – and so with 7 minutes left in our session, we shifted to attention while lying down.

Noticing their body on the mat, part by part, and then their breathing. Listening to the music to help them focus. Was the feeling pleasant? (they seemed very pleased).

I asked them to consider another pleasant situation they’d felt that day. When it was, where. Were there people around, were there smells, or colours. To let themselves re-enter that experience.

To notice their breathing.

Quietly, I told them I’d soon be giving them the signal to re-surface. One girl objected – she wanted to stay.

Others were fine.

I wondered if there was a party going to happen that night. After all, one curly haired child had straightened her hair (a sign of an upcoming social gathering)

The signal was given. For the first time, I told them that the next week we’d be examining ways to de-stress. Only those who wanted to come were invited.  (“Could T come?” asked Y. No, I said. I’m speaking only of those who originally signed up).

And they left.

………………….

In doing my reflection after the lesson, I thought of the many elements that had appeared during the session. The restlessness of one boy. The desire to chat.

There had been a little magic in that they spent most of their time following the instructions and showing interest. But that little bit of unwanted break from concentration reminded me that there is no magic in Mindfulness practice. It takes work!

The teacher must learn along with the student.

Till next time.

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