Class Relax

refocus, renew and get ready to learn

What Makes me Angry?

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Looking at moments of anger. This was our homework.

What kinds of  things make me angry or stressed? Is it from something someone says, or does? Or is it because of something that I’ve done? Let’s think about what happened last week to make us feel anger.  Our task was to check our pulse at the moment we felt stressed or angry at someone.

I asked the pupils to recall their past week. First step, the pupils wrote down moments when they felt anger.

They could share if they wished. They all shared! No problem!

Did you remember to check your pulse? Two pupils said they did.

Who remembered to check your pulse?  A few hands went up.

How did you remember?  I just did. I read your reminder on my phone.

What happened when you remembered? How did it feel? Did checking your pulse change anything?

These are powerful questions. Meta-cognitive tasks. Supremely sophisticated instructions. I was fascinated to hear how it went.

It made me a little calmer, said J.  The others looked distracted. I knew that my questions were far from simple, so I delved into the experience now.

How do you feel now as you remember the moment? Do you feel angry?  Two admitted anger. One in an angry voice. Another in a bewildered, frustrated voice.

Are there any other emotions together with anger?

Frustration. Disappointment, they said.

I complimented them. Wow. What a difficult thing to do! Who, truly, is able at the very moment of sudden anger or stress to step aside from that emotion and check physical signs?

Some of the pupils were able. I was so impressed and encouraged their efforts.

Another side-bar: Talking about the situations brought out suggestions from others – how to deal with the problem.

How to move on to resolve the unresolved.

How to grow from feeling anger to resolution.

The group has provided a safe enough space to allow them to speak about what caused the anger. Others are listening and showing some empathy.

Critical Questions: Can these students learn how to recognize anger as it occurs and somehow lessen their own suffering? Or at least find a way to prevent fanning the flames to higher levels of emotion?

I pulled out my iPad and showed them the clip called
“The Unwelcome Party Guest” (a metaphor for what happens when we try to ignore our negative emotions)

The clip can be found here:

It’s about five minutes in length and I encourage you to take a look. Though in English, my Hebrew-speaking pupils understood with a minor bit of translation here and there.

Till now, I’ve stayed unplugged, welcoming the chance to disconnect from smartphones and keyboards, but it is still very cool to mix up media in any lesson. The more ways we can practice, the better.

Continuing Deliberation

I’m always assessing the effectiveness of what we’re doing in our 80 minute sessions.

I asked them if they’d consider a project: creating a short clip showing some of the techniques we’ve been practicing. I thought about:

different angles of striking the Tibetan Singing Bowl and how we listen and signal when we can no longer detect the sound.

I thought about our  body scan relaxation.

Our use of chi cong to pay attention to our bodies.

Colouring mandalas.

Preparing tea from freshly gathered herbs and sitting around sipping.

Wouldn’t this make a fabulous project, I thought, as well as an opportunity to re-think why we do these things and how they help us to stay in the present moment.

The kids, unfortunately, wanted no part of it!

I reminded them that we have less than a month remaining of our one-semester workshop, and how then Grade 8 kids will be switching groups.  To my surprise, a few said that they wanted and planned to stay on. One of  whom is the infamous very noisy pupil.

Trying not to show my bewilderment, I asked them what it is about our workshop that they enjoy. The answers were abstract, which I guess is interesting!

Perhaps they just like it!

To be seen

Thanks for reading,

sitting circle (mindful kids)

             sitting circle (mindful kids)



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