In my group of 8th grade girls, there are a few who are quite comfortable stating their quirks.
One announced that she’s ADHD and has trouble concentrating when others shift position on their cushions.
Another admitted that she can’t possibly refrain from stating what’s on her mind – that’s just how she is.
Another giggled that she’s full of anxieties and can’t keep still.
I know that we all have something inside that challenges us every day.
This is our laboratory
We are here to catch those very things as they happen: those things and thoughts that go on in our minds that we might be missing.
“Great,” I say aloud. “We have material to work with.”
“Who here is taking a few minutes each day to notice their breath?” The same pupils. They don’t really know how to put their finger on it, but it’s making a difference. I reminded everyone that we have an opportunity here to build a habit. This is a lifelong tool that can be learned anytime. If not yesterday, then today. It’s never too late to start and it’s always a positive thing to do.
A look at ‘The Uninvited Party Guest’
I wanted to bring in the idea of feeling anger and what happens inside if we ignore it. I screened the ‘ Uninvited Party Guest’
We watched the clip from my iPad. I showed it straight through and then asked if someone could summarize it for us.
S did a good job of explaining how someone wanted to have a big party and invite all his friends. He didn’t want to invite his neighbour, however, who was annoying and stinky. The day of the party, his friends arrived. They ate, drank, laughed and it was fun. Soon, there was a knock on the door and the neighbour showed up, marched right it. He went to join the others and soon enough was annoying everyone. The party host asked the neighbour to leave.
The party continued. Soon, a knock on the door and the neighbour again marched right in. Same scenario, the host kicked him out. But this time, he was determined not to allow the neighbour to come in again and ruin the party, so he stood at the door on guard. After a while, he saw all his guests outside, eating, drinking laughing all without him.
He decided to join them.
After a few minutes, the neighbour walked in. This time, the host decided to let things ride for a minute or two. What a surprise! His friends didn’t mind the neighbour, in fact they seemed to be laughing at his jokes.
Not so bad. Even the host found him to be bearable!
The girls understood.
How could we apply this to our lives? What does the neighbour represent? Anger, Frustration.
What happens when we don’t acknowledge it, or let it in? We lose out. We’re busy all the time thinking about it.
What happens when we let it in? We learn how to live with it. It’s not so bad.
Then we acted out the scenario. Y was the neighbour. S was the host. Everyone else played the party guests.
Observation: Role-playing is a good way to try out our real-life dilemmas. If the girls are brave enough to go there. I suggest a respectable cognitive distance from their most intimate situations and a look at more generic.
A few girls were starting to sleep.
This was the time for body attention
Standing circle to reawaken the body.
Copy the noise: The first person was to make a noise and everyone was to make the same noise. Our job was to imitate the noise and the pitch. We each took a turn leading and went round the circle.
Copy the action: Then we each started an action. Each took the lead once and then again.
Back to our sitting circle
We sat down. Two girls were out of touch, disconnected.
We discussed the framework of our meetings, the topic for the next week: Nature. And then I mentioned that there was a serious problem that needed to be addressed.
A big Problem!
I knew that many were worried. Was I going to yell at the non-participants, at those who weren’t doing their homework?
I put them out of their misery. The problem was that we hadn’t been doing enough full body relaxations.
Ahhhh….said O, a special fan of the body scan.
Addressing the issue: Doing a Body Scan
I invited them to pick a mattress and lie down however they felt most comfortable. One girl was upset that she couldn’t have a certain bean bag chair and she (the one experiencing anxiety) decided to sit this one out.
Aside: My role as a mindfulness teacher is not a one-to-one therapist. If I took on that role, I’d have a number of after-class sessions with some of these girls. But as it is, my role is to give them all a chance to experience the Language of Attentiveness and come away with as positive experience as possible. One never knows when the knowledge of even one small technique will pop back into the consciousness to be of use.
We went through a body scan with dimmed lights and a gentle pace. Afterwards, I brought them back to ‘reality’ by mentioning that I’d soon be giving the signal to roll on their sides and notice if there’d be any change in their bodies.