Class Relax

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Let’s Be! June 14/18 last session

Let’s Be!

Let’s forget the promises of 45 minutes full-fledged meditation. The girls showed up with earnest desire to share what was on their minds.

Don't judge
There were four of us, due to a rumour spread by an unknown pupil that all the workshops that day had been cancelled.

Lucky for us!

We came round a table, a little snack food, something to drink, and lots to discuss.

Friendship and possessiveness – How to deal with jealousy when my friend is with someone else?


Making friends – If right away I can’t get along with someone, they often become my best friends!


Being an introvert or an extrovert or both – I like being an introvert- I like books.  I like being an extrovert, I like being kind of flirtatious. Me – I’m both and it’s hard!


Being issued ADD or ADHD and how it helps or not.  My 2 friends always talk at the same time and it helps that I have ADD – no problem at all listening.   

ADHD, I just can’t sit for long, I don’t have the ability!


Being smarter than others – I don’t have patience for all the time it takes in class for the others to understand. What’s so hard about it?


Feeling outside of things – I came to the school late. I don’t get all the references to past experiences.   I have always been here, and I feel different, but I can cope. 


Our pets and how they help us meditate (Maybe combine the dog-training workshop with the meditation workshop?) – When I feel sad, I just look at my dog’s face. Here, look! Who wouldn’t smile at that little face!

So many things to talk about. My role was to listen and offer advice when asked for it.

Like in this case about jealousy.
How do I deal with jealousy? When I don’t want my friend to speak admiringly of someone else? When I feel something eat at my heart.
Me: If you can catch the feeling of jealousy as it hits, there’s a chance to catch it in the bud. Apply humour, self-talk, recognition.
If it’s already full-blown and tears away at your soul, then that calls for sitting down in meditation, breathing and pinpointing the feeling, where it appears in the body. Allowing yourself to recognize it fully, then apply an image. How does it feel? What colour is it? Give it presence and give it identity. Name it! (Wilbert, for example). Realizing that it is an ‘it’ and not ‘me’ helps give distance, helps create space, helps us to cope with such an overpowering emotion.

We continued to speak, and then at the end of session bell, gently parted, thanking one another.
Until next year.

judih2016

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Taking stock: June 7

June 7th Workshop

Note from Judih: Circumstances being what they are (the unrest in our area, the end of year fever that’s sweeping our school), I was wondering if we’d be meeting for a final workshop next week. So, I used this session to offer students the opportunity to express themselves: how they felt, what they’d be taking with them from our sessions.

I prepared the Relaxation Room for our session: a little spritz of lavender aromatherapy air freshener and creating a circle of cushions and chairs.

Students were invited in and we began.

I turned off the lights and led them in a brief mindfulness meditation: being aware of the body, where it came in contact with the floor, the cushion, or the chair,  then straightening the spine, exhaling and inhaling to center ourselves.

We counted 10 breaths, using our fingers to keep us anchored, and then turned our attention to the sounds around us, eventually coming back to the breath. We ended with a stretch and a shaking of hands.

Our first task: to use colour to show how we felt. Each student took a simple outline of a face and chose colours to represent their present-moment self.

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The talking piece was passed around and those who wanted to share thoughts about their drawings did so.

Next task: to express the things they’d be taking with them from our Mindfulness workshops.

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This teacher had a wonderful, nourishing session. Thank you, students.


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Class Relax, dealing with 22.5 hours of war

Class Relax was on call this week.

Tuesday morning for morning preparation. Wednesday morning for first aid therapy after 22.5 hours of bomb alerts, rocket fall and uncertainty. Thursday morning for end of week therapy.

Our biggest challenge was our Grade 9 Mindfulness workshop during which our attention to what makes us angry discovered that all of the participants were seriously in need of having to talk about their anger. They had suffered being targets of rockets and mortars, and knowing that their friends and family members in neighbouring communities were also having to run for their lives into shelters, if they had them. Then, they had to hear world opinion in the news accusing us of causing the current state of affairs in the Gaza Strip. (As if it was all our fault and that we had no right to protest being attacked all night with bombs)

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hat boy, photographer, Ariel, NY

Gaza leaders, the Hamas, those ordering the bombing of civilians, were not being held to blame by world media.  And on Thursday, when invited to speak about anger, the kids in the workshop, one after another, were all truly angry at it all, first the attacks of war and then stinging world opinion.

And I, a Canadian, who remembered other times when those living in Gaza came to work on our kibbutz, and how I’d given my baby pram to a Gazan mother after my child had outgrown it, what about me? How did all of their anger strike me?

I felt their anger and though I asked them to leave political arguments aside and concentrate on their personal feelings, although I took the talking piece to reflect what each said and ask for correction if I’d misunderstood,  I was still overwhelmed by the unanimous emotion that filled the room.

After our circle, there was no time for our body scan, no time for relaxation. The overtime I’d always relied upon was cut short as the kids were being sent home earlier than usual.

One by one, they exited the room and there I was, feeling an immense sense of sadness. So much anger at an impossible situation and no opportunity to come together to find relief, I felt sad and in need of release.

My own needs aside (blogged in nowtherapy.wordpress.com), I have a challenge for next time.

Next session: taking stock of current mood. Has time amplified or modified the anger. If other life events have interacted to create a new emotion. And hopefully, remedies for self-centering, how to help ourselves and be available for others.

My question: Have other facilitators had to deal with such intense post-war feelings? Forty minutes is only a beginning. Please respond if you have dealt with such a session.


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Our anger – how to deal

We get angry. Of course we do. Is there a solution? First, as the H.H. the Dalai Lama says,

“Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.”

or: if it’s possible to change the situation, do it. If not, let’s change our perception.

Looking at anger

First a breathing meditation and we were off.

In our circle we shared what had angered us this past week.

I began: a bus that I missed. Then another bus that never came. grrr.

Others: a situation they didn’t want to be in.  A teacher who didn’t honour a promise. A friend who didn’t really hear what was being said. After being polite, being tricked by a ‘friend’.

We then divided into groups of 3: One would represent the angry one, another would be the cause of the anger and the 3rd would offer up a win-win Solution.

After a few minutes of planning, we had presentations of situations and solutions.

  1. The friend who didn’t listen, apologized and promised to be more present for her friend.

  2. The friend who had tricked his friend, also apologized and agreed to change his behaviour in the future.

  3. The ones who wanted to escape from a situation, were given permission to be excused.

So far, all teams were pleased.

Team four however, dealing with a teacher who hadn’t kept a promise, couldn’t seem to find a solution. Their problem, they believed, would always remain a problem. How could they make a teacher respect them? The group offered possible solutions: Speak to her, go to the Principal, go on strike. No solution seemed satisfactory. We spoke of how they could deal with the teacher: in anger or after breathing and speaking reasonably.  That wouldn’t help, they felt. No matter what,  the teacher would become defensive and ignore them.

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Solution

One more suggestion:

“Perhaps one student could speak to the teacher privately,  quietly, appealing to reason.”

This seemed to be a possibility.   Then the lesson drew to a close.

Those who could, stayed for a closing body scan to release tensions and come back to a relaxed centered state. corpse-pose

Afterthought

Thinking about the session, I was saddened. This is a situation that has to be addressed in our educational system. Every year, the State asks students how they feel about their educational environment, and year after year, they say that they feel that their teachers don’t listen to them, don’t respect them.

If such a questionnaire would be given to teachers, they would say: Students don’t listen, the Administration doesn’t listen and the State doesn’t listen.

Upon what are we building our schools? Frustration and pent-up anger? Why aren’t there forums for simple listening?
Yes, teachers are given workshops on how to hold dialogues, but there’s no designated time for such conversations. Teachers’ free hours are grabbed by the system to substitute for missing teachers, or for marking papers. However, when it comes to conversations on the spot, in real-time, when the conversation is most needed, there is no available time.

As I begin to phase out of the Educational system, as a regular teacher, I feel intense frustration that our profession has become more and more devoted to non-essential paperwork or meaningless substituting. Our role as educators isn’t being supported by the State or by our school. There’s no time to implement our school’s credo of dealing with the unique needs of each student.

Mindfulness is a first step. If we, as teachers, can honour ourselves, taking the time to pause, breathe, center ourselves and be available to hear ourselves and our students, we will be able to recognize the need for conversations at the moment of need, before they explode into angry confrontations.

May we embrace each opportunity to maximize our time with our students, to maximize our ability to listen to ourselves and to others.

 


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Listening

Listening
It can take many forms.

Listening to someone speaking. Listening to sounds of others. Listening to music, to birds, to the wind in the leaves. Listening to the general sound effects in the world around us.

It can also be listening to a partner, even without speech. We can listen to ourselves and the feelings that suddenly appear within. We can listen to our thoughts, without being swept away.

This week we mixed it all up: Listening to sounds around us, listening to a guiding voice. And listening to a silent partner while working on a mandala.
How to work together without speaking?

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And at the sound of a handclap, how to give up the drawing you were working on, and receive someone else’s. No matter what we received, our work was to carry on with our partner on this new mandala.

And so we went around the circle till each pair received their original mandala. How did it feel to get it? Was there emotion? What did we think? How did it feel inside?

Our Mindfulness session offers a chance for checking out what goes on inside us when we feel something is ‘ours’ and someone else enters our territory. Fascinating.

Update:

One week later, at the beginning of our session and going around the circle, each participant was asked to share something good that happened to them that week. M said: the exercise we did, working on the Mandalas with our partners and with the others in the room. And she smiled!

This facilitator smiled! A good feeling when thinking about her experience during that session was a delightful affirmation. Especially to me when I had seen her face at the end of the exercise and I hadn’t been able to pick up on her thoughts.


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May 17th 2018, the Unwelcome Guest

In our workshop for 9th Graders, we have been talking about listening – to things, sounds, to people in our environment and to ourselves.

In particular, we’ve been observing what happens inside of us when someone infringes on our territory. Territory includes our physical space, when someone gets too close or our sphere of listening – when someone is too loud or talks too much when we need silence. It could be that someone else triggers our emotions and we feel that they’ve hit upon an overly sensitive point.

One way of dealing is to ignore the problem and hope it goes away. 

The clip: “The Unwelcome Party Guest” deals with such a situation and what happens when we shut out something or someone.  Does that solve the situation?
We watched the clip and then arrived at some interesting points when we discussed what we had seen.
Take a look, and see what you think:

Our discussion was interesting, as usual! We have such a diversity of participants that we tend to hit a large variety of points of view.

We spoke of how Brian, the neighbour, is a metaphor for so many other things: like homework we need to do but procrastinate, or a job we have to do and shove to the bottom of our to do list, or even an emotion that we’d rather not confront.

How did the party-giver finally deal with the problem of a neighbour he didn’t want to attend his party?

He tried to kick him out, deny him entry until he realized that he himself was missing out on a great party. He decided he’d let whatever happened happen and see what transpired.

In the end, Brian, indeed reappeared, but truly wasn’t as bad as expected. Yes, he was loud and rude and stinky but he was also amusing and people were laughing, and the party-giver realized that in reality, Brian was basically okay!

What did it take to make the switch?

N said: he released his opinion

M said: he made a decision

So, why don’t we do that more often?

It’s hard.  We don’t like to change.

It’s habitual actions.

Yes, it’s comfortable and familiar if we do things the old way.

That led us to a discussion of what it takes to form a new habit.

Not a few months, not a year, not just after a resolution, but, but scientific evidence cites even 3 weeks of faithfully performing a new action can provide enough repetition for our brain to re-wire and adopt the new habit.

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Three Weeks – or at least that’s what some say. Is it true? Only we can determine if that’s true for us, or true for one particular habit.

But first, can we investigate our old habitual responses?

Homework: what makes us angry? Let’s see if we can detect what triggers us? And then we’ll go on from there.


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Semester 2! Let’s go!

Before the first session

I happened to be in the Grade 9 building, leaving a classroom and there she was! A homeroom teacher came up to me before the first session of Semester Two.

“There are a few boys who registered, and I’m not sure they’re choosing to participate for the right reasons. Just keep in mind that if any discipline problems arise, let us know and we’ll handle it”.

I nodded, commenting that it was fortunate that I had run into her. She assured me that she would have found a way to relate the info. (Serious, I thought)

And there it was. I arrived at the Nofei Habsor Library a little before the lesson and a bunch of boys were there to greet me.

“Hi Judih!”

“Hi boys. Are you waiting for me?”

“Yes” As they popped off the concrete bench at the entrance of the library to come towards me.

“We’re going to begin at the sound of the bell at 13:15. I’ll get the room ready and then come to call you.”

And there I was back in the sunny round room, arranging cushions in a circle and setting up my personal space. The boys had seemed sincere and eager. I wondered which of them were the ones in question. I sprayed some lavender aromatherapy mist around the space and decided to adjust the temperature of the room.  I opened the door and there they were, ready for meditation. I guided them to remove their shoes, put away their schoolbags, their phones and to sit quietly.

As the bell rang, two of my favourite participants from the first semester arrived to join in. Hugs and we were in.

I introduced myself and we went over the rules of our sessions – speaking and listening from the heart, keeping what is said within our walls, the one with the talking piece is the one with the right to speak.

I asked them what they thought of when I told them we were going to learn the language of attention, mindfulness. They shared: listening to the environment, listening to others, to themselves. Being a better person.

And we began with Take Five, the easiest way to pay deliberate attention to the breath. “How was that for you?” I asked.

“Relaxing” was the consensus. Only one boy refrained from speaking.

I asked them to document their expectations or wishes for our workshop – through words or illustration. Those who wanted to, shared with the rest. I saw illustrations of sitting in lotus, the circular room, the idea of a sweet, peaceful break in a life of waves of activity. I heard things like: being relaxed, being quiet.

I invited them to find a space, lie down, to avoid touching someone else, and we embarked on a body scan.corpse-pose

That same boy kept looking up, checking out others.  Apparently, this was the homeroom teacher’s suspect.

We returned to the circle, did a ‘Dry Shower’ of body tapping to wake ourselves up.

Those who wished, shared their experience. They were respectful and positive.

They agreed to form a What’s App group so that I could offer reminders during the week. Same boy didn’t offer his phone number. I quietly spoke to him: I noticed that you’re not sharing. Are you interested in participating? He shrugged and left quietly.

At the sound of the bell, our session slowly melted away like a magic curtain.

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A few boys began to play with a doll, a comfortable wrap-around doll, removing it from the room and immediately incurring the wrath of the librarian in charge of the space. She rushed over to reprimand the boy caught with the contraband doll.

She and I looked at one another – and how at the sound of a bell, presto! magic! return to 3 years old!

May we be happy and healthy!

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