Mindfulness in the Classroom

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“Life is precious and mindfulness gives the tools to live deeply, to connect authentically, and to open our hearts fully.” – Meena Srinivasan

T: “It feels like…rest.”

It started out of desperation. Both in my own life, and in the classroom. The children were just…so…loud. Meeting time was always impossible so we essentially stopped trying. I was surrounded by the entire classroom, as they had asked me to read a book. It was so loud though I couldn’t hear the words coming out of my own mouth. I needed a moment, just a moment, of peace and quiet.

“Hey can you guys sit still, as quiet as possible, for ten seconds?”

Silence. Stillness. They loved the challenge. I counted to ten quickly and quietly, in case if I counted too loudly I would break the moment of magical stillness. The second I got to ten they cheered. They seemed to crave what I had given them a glimpse of – focused, intentional, calm. In the coming weeks we would progress from a moment of desperation, to focused and varied mindfulness.

R: “I like taking deep breaths because it fills my belly and I like to fill my belly.”

“Everyone of us already has the seed of mindfulness. The practice is to cultivate it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Now it has become a part of our daily rhythm. My wind group begins every session with a moment of stillness. It is incredible watching them each clinging to their own preferred approach. Some sit in butterfly, some stretch out or even lay down. Some place their hands at heart center, others put their hands in a position that looks as if they are holding a baby egg – which is the first one we taught them, a few put their hands in a position that looks like an opening flower. Some close their eyes, others leave them open. Some seems to focus on their breathing, some will find a focal point. Others fidget around, while taking big, deep breaths.

G, fellow co-teacher: “I think they are too young to understand they need breaks or restful moments, and this is a good way to give them skills for the future.”

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L: “I like meditation because it calms myself down.”

After spending a day doing yoga and meditation in my own life, I was reintroduced to candle meditation. I brought a candle to the class and introduced it to them. I had never seen them so still. Some who before weren’t drawn to meditation, suddenly were noticing their breathe, remaining still and calm. I have been focusing on kindness during my mantra meditation. I told the children this  – and that I was going to share some affirmations with them they could repeat if they wanted to. We stated, “I am kind. I am a friend. I am happy. I spread happiness.”

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that lead to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” – Muhammad Ali

K: “It feels good because it fills my body with breathe and I don’t get sweaty I get calm.”

A co-teacher and I had both went to scoop up a child at the same time, which resulted in us pretending to play tug-o-war with her, yelling back and forth how we want her more. We were all giggling and pretending to argue, when a child across the room said, “Take a deep breathe!”

Meditation is not just for relaxation; it’s primary purpose is to develop the capacity to respond skillfully and gracefully to life’s difficulties as well as it’s joys. – Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche

I plan on asking them to create their own affirmations. We also are thinking about creating a meditation spot in the classroom, so children can choose to practice mindfulness independently as well as our full group experiences. We also plan to introduce various methods of mindfulness – our atelierista is going to help me make finger labyrinths out of clay. We also will invite parents to create Peace Stones they can hold during meditation, that states a hope they hold for their child.

A: “I like blowing out the candle, it feels good.”

If you would have told me in August these children would grasp on to meditation, I would have laughed at you. They are the fastest, loudest, least focused group of children I have ever taught. These mindfulness experiences though have given them a way to experience an alternative approach to being, it has also helped me see them in a different light, adding to my image of all children being capable, whole human beings.

L, fellow co-teacher: “I see the immediate benefit, as well as the long term benefits. I see them working towards a goal, and meeting it.” 

 

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5 thoughts on “Mindfulness in the Classroom

  1. Are you familiar with Maria Montessori’s ‘silence game’? I used to play it with my class, and what they heard in the world of ‘silence’ was incredible….4 year olds could hold this silence for several minutes, and they loved it.

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  2. I also am a former Montessori teacher and I had great success with the silent game. However, I really like the idea of meditation and affirmation where the children can take the process through out their time in class and in their life.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your teacher story and the children’s story about how mindfulness practice has enhanced the growth of your learning community. The opportunity for pause, stillness, and reflection is important for all.

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