Class Relax

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June Workshop: Language of Attentiveness

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Meeting number 4 of 8th grade Workshop

What happens when five students who really want to do meditation come to a workshop offering them meditation? It works! The teacher offers and invites, the students accept and try and learning occurs.

Thus was my session this past Thursday.

sitting circle (mindful kids)
sitting circle (mindful kids)

We began our session siting on the comfortable bean bag chairs in a circle. Getting comfortable, we simply began to informally notice our breathing. Not talking just for the sake of talking but doing active listening, to really be there when someone says something.

“Isn’t it good to know that you’re being listened to?”

We did a mindful count of 10 breaths. I invited them to close their eyes, to count in their own rhythm, to use our technique of one finger to count each total breath.

“How was it?”

“Relaxing”, several said.

The next step was to notice our breathing for 3 minutes, using the singing bowl as an aid to keep us focused.

Tibetan Singing Bowl

I gave them the signal and let the singing bowl vibrate, I offered scaffolding, reminders to let the air out, and in.  At the end of each minute, I rang the bowl, and guided:”Notice yourself as you breathe”

or as Simi Levi-Yeshuvi says: “What happens between breaths?”

And another ring of the singing bowl.

At the end of 3 minutes, I gave them the signal to slowly come back, to open their eyes. We stretched.

I asked how it was. Some said it was good. One said it seemed so long. One said she nearly fell asleep. Yes, falling asleep – well known side effect. Sometimes given a chance the body dozes off. This is interesting and we notice it.

Perhaps next week we’ll try four minutes.

The next phase was to actively energize the body, through t’ai chi warm-ups and some chi cong and then we’d be working on mandalas.

Each mindfully found a spot on the floor, enough space between them, standing up facing me and I led them through warm-ups and then 5 of the 8 pieces of Brocade (a wonderful Chi Cong cutta) and we started to notice the yin and yang of the body positions.

Eight Pieces
Eight Pieces

We cooled down.

I directed them to take the mountain pose, standing straight and balanced and asked them to notice their bodies. If they felt good, or if something hurt them. A few said that their bodies were sore and I invited them to give themselves a small massage. When two commented that it was their backs, I suggested group massage. We stood in a circular chain and worked on the backs of the one in front.

Sighs of happiness were heard. One student complained of a sore upper arm, so with the permission of the one I was massaging and of the other student, I worked on the sore arm. I told the students to let their fingers feel the reaction of the other’s body. Usually the body gives signs if it’s responding well – to notice. What do you mean, ‘feel the other’? asked one girl. Let your fingers pick up the information. And suddenly the one with the sore arm, said “Yo! it doesn’t hurt anymore”.

“You cured him!” said one girl.

“It’s not magic, it’s letting the fingers listen,” I commented.

With that, I invited them to take a seat around the table and I brought over mandalas, pastels, coloured pens and markers.

Mystical Mandala Colouring book
Mystical Mandala Colouring book

Each student picked a mandala. I invited them to colour in silence for a minute. As they chose colours and worked on their designs,  I joined in (how wonderful was that!). After one minute had passed, I asked them how it was. ‘Relaxing’ they said, and we continued. After another few minutes, I stopped them. “Stop!” I said (no warning). Then, “How did it feel to be stopped?”

“Annoying.”  “Frustrating.”

“Interesting,” I said. “Let’s continue.” Then after a tiny while: “How does it feel to be allowed to continue?”

“Good.”  “Relaxing.”

“Where do you feel it in your body?”

“My heart.”

“My head.”

We continued.

I warned them that in a few minutes, we’d have to stop and it’d be time to get ready to leave.

“Can we continue?” asked one girl.

“Yes, next week. But notice that this moment will never come back. Next week, we’ll have different circumstances. You’ll feel differently and things will change. We’ll notice next week!”

She nodded, pleased with a promise of more time next week.

The signal was given. We admired each of the mandalas as I collected them. We put things away, put on our shoes and said goodbye till next week.

Next week we’ll wrap up what’s been experienced and see what’s made an impression.

You’re welcome to stay tuned!

Of course, all comments, questions, suggestions are invited. Our kids are our future.

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