The Language of Attentiveness /Safat HaKeshev or Meditation is a high-demand course for the second semester.
I warned the Principal that our number would be limited to 8, based on the size of the small Relaxation Room, but my words went unheeded. Last Monday, I could only wait to see what would happen as last week, pupils were directed to their chosen optional course.
Then they approached me! I found 15 pupils, smiling, headed towards me in the Grade 8 lobby.
I welcomed them and suggested that we sit down and practice. “When there’s nothing to do, do nothing. Sit, breathe, enjoy”. As they proceeded to ‘enjoy’, I went to the authorities to state my case.
I was assured that they’d work to find me a larger space and so, meantime, I decided to lead the group to our designated small space and get things started. We walked the distance of a few buildings and as we got to the door of our room, 3 more girls showed up asking to join.
I had to turn them away and watch them head back down to their 8th Grade Building, where they intended to air their complaints.
And so it began.
Second semester of the Language of Attentiveness.
I instructed them on how to enter the space, taking off their shoes, sitting quietly in a circle, on a bean bag chair, and maintaining silence.
I found a free cushion, and joined the circle. I took a look around at their expectant faces and introduced myself and the idea of the course. We began with an exercise in attention.
Take one minute, to write down everything you notice.
I gave the signal and they wrote.
How many things?
Some noticed a lot, others a few. I nodded. No judgement.
Finish this sentence: I always notice “….”
the faces that people make
Next, finish this sentence: “When I’m listening to music, I don’t notice……………..”
other people talking
if I’m hungry
I asked them to introduce themselves and share their expectations and what they’d like to learn. I assured them that the course has a syllabus but that we’d work on the things that they find most useful.
First technique: I introduced the idea of noticing our breath. We counted 10 breaths, using our fingers to count each one.
I introduced noticing sound. We took the sound of the Tibetan Singing Bowl and first listening with our eyes opened and then again, eyes closed. How was it easier?
The kids seemed shy to express their findings. I told them that we’re all different and that it’s okay! I asked them about what happens when they taste really good food. Do they do it with eyes opened or closed? Some were able to access their experience and report, others weren’t. So, I assigned it for homework – to notice when they ate some delicious soup, if they closed their eyes or opened them.