Monday morning. The day of the Nofei Habsor Purim party.
The Jr. high students were in school that morning ‘studying.’ That evening was their Purim party. Just for them. The high school kids weren’t invited: they would be celebrating the following day.
From first thing in the morning, there had been anonymous gifting of packages of candies. Loads of sugar had been consumed before our 10:15 Mindfulness session.
Me? Ready for them, ready to see how to apply the language of attentiveness to their moods, whatever they might be!
The girls began to enter the space. Shoes were discarded, phones placed in backpacks. Each took a seat in the circle.
We began in silence and then I asked about homework. Had they remembered to notice their breathing for a 2 minute interval? Some had! The number was growing.
Instructions: “Focus on the sound of the Tibetan Singing Bowl. There might be noises from the lobby or from outside. Still, listen to the sound of the bowl.”
Like clockwork, the moment I rang the bowl, there was a huge uproar in the lobby.
After the sound subsided, we talked about it.
Testing ourselves is the way we learn. We can’t always have perfect circumstances, and so we adjust our attention. If our mind wanders, when we notice it, we bring it back. That’s our task.
The room began to get quieter. The girls were thoughtful but then one voice: “Can we do something special for Purim?”
I’ve planned a few options, I said, opening a window.
When I call out your name, tell me what you’d like to do today!
I went around the circle, and wrote down their requests: dancing, playing games, colouring mandalas, drinking tea, eating.
Ah, I observed, it seems like what you’d like is ‘Kindergarten’!
Yes, they agreed!
I nodded agreement. Okay. There’s room for dancing, game playing, colouring.
The only stipulation: when I ring the Tibetan Singing Bowl, you’ll stop what you’re doing and be quiet.
We cleared the central space and I brought out the CD player for the first game: Musical Chairs!
One girl took over the music. And the game was on. Lots of energy was released.
The dancing continued.
I set up a colouring corner: outlines of faces and the girls’ files in case they wanted to work on half-finished mandala work. I provided coloured pencils
I sat and observed.
Judih’s in shock! commented one girl.
No, not at all! I said. I took great interest in watching the dynamics.
One girl chose to sit on the huge exercise ball to bounce while she was colouring.
They gravitated into smaller groups. The dancers flopped on cushions to speak. The colourers broke into two groups: those who worked in silence, the other who worked together.
Then the dancers turned on the music for the all-time favourite: Bubbly
They all joined in.
Then back to their stations.
I rang the bell after a while to capture a moment of silence.
They paused then continued.
A second time, I rang the bowl and signaled for them to come and stand round me in a circle. I invited them to notice their feet on the floor, their bodies. To take some large breaths, exhaling to the soles of their feet and then a nourishing inhale, and again. Then I invited them to notice how it felt to be stopped from doing what they were previously doing.
I invited them to go back to their activities in that mindful way.
The day of the Purim party. A little attention to being, to listening. And a homework assignment to send me pictures of themselves in costume!
And so a day of the Language of Attentiveness.
Far from radical, but still an experiment in adapting mindfulness to a real life situation.
Mindfulness is a living, breathing skill. It’s relevant. It’s not static, not the same everyday or in every situation. It is what is at the present moment. It is composed of change and risk-taking and quiet and frustration and too much sugar. No circumstance is the ‘wrong’ one. We notice what is and the more we accept what ‘is’ at that moment, the kinder we can be and more able to live our life more fully.