Modelling mindfulness

I’m sadly one of those people who thinks meditation and yoga are a great idea. Thinks. I haven’t quite gotten around to the doing bit just yet. My secular psychic forays haven’t exactly stuck, despite binges on Bikram every few years, and I haven’t made a good habit of any of the things I profess to feel are beneficial. One thing I do, though, every few years is have a mental spring clean with a counsellor. And one of the things that strikes me after each run of sessions, is that not everybody thinks of the mind as something to be cared for, exercised, and rested. I think of counselling as something akin to buying a gym membership or buying a series of laser treatments for my skin. It’s expensive, but undoubtedly good for me. Like my body and skin, I have one mind, and I want to look after it. Zero stigma.

Unfortunately, lots of people don’t see it that way, and that’s the family culture that kids bring to school. This is where modelling comes in. Our job as aides and teachers is to model positive behaviours. Just what if, for once, we included mental health in the PD/H/PE curriculum – and I don’t mean showing the kids the way to the school counsellor’s office. I mean preventative mental health, like Mindfulness Training. Non-secular meditation is a great way to deal with the bazillions of strange emotions and hormones coursing through a student’s mind and body. And I would be willing to bet my salary that it will have a positive and noticeable effect on our mainstream disability students.

I have resolved to sign up for a course and collect some inspiration for visualisation which my coach and counsellor reckons will work a treat with students. Have you had any experience with meditation in schools? How did you rate the experience?

(To hear Jon Kabat-Zinn talk to Google staff about mindfulness, click here.)

Image: Nothing is New.

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7 thoughts on “Modelling mindfulness

  1. akoaroha says:

    Hi there,
    Back in the day, I had a relief drama teacher who had us all lie on the floor and close our eyes then essentially had us ‘visualise’ a scene he described.
    At the time he described it as mindful consciousness (I think) and said that it was a key ingrediant of good acting – having that air of thinking about something else, just as normal people do, and not focussing on which actor will be speaking next or where the next action will take place (as it ruins the ‘suspension of disbelief’ for the audience if actors are preempting every bit of action or speaking by announcing it with their body language – anyway, back to the point…)
    He would begin learning sessions this way and afterwards we would all be very focused and on-task, and his lessons are the ones I remember most clearly years later.
    I’ve seen a slightly different version used with young students who had to follow a series of slow purposeful motions (like large arm circles, then standing on one leg etc.) modelled by the teacher. I think that one was modelled on Brain Gym.

    • thepomoslso says:

      Hi lady,

      Thanks for your comment. I had a really good think on it and I was wondering, do you think that relief teachers in particular can benefit from these kinds of calming exercises? That maybe they need more weapons in their arsenal? And do you think that it was the novelty or the clarity of mind which made you remember these classes so many years on?

      • akoaroha says:

        Hi again,
        I have wondered many a time if, as a relief teacher, he was using it as a bit of a time filler or to ensure our calm and focussed attention or whether it was a truly valid technique. I think the answer might be a combination of those intentions.
        Strangely, I think it is also a combination of clarity and novelty that is the reason I remember it, because that year we also had an actor from NZ’s Shortland Street soap as a ‘guest’ teacher, yet I have no recollection of what the content of his lesson was.

    • MiglooTeacher says:

      We may have had the same drama teacher! My drama teacher at Mt Compass in South Australia did (and said) exactly the same with us… and he was our regular teacher for the whole 3 years I was at the school. By the end of my time there I was well practiced in the art of meditation, although I didn’t know that was what it was.

      The irony is that I went from that state school to a Private Christian school and didn’t do any meditation again until I was an adult.

      I have, at different times, participated in Yoga as well as other meditation practices and have always found them useful. I have utilised some of the skills (re)learned in my cycling where mindfulness is a great benefit.

      On another note, I have also heard of a Catholic School in Townsville that has all of their Primary School practice meditation and mindfulness weekly. I am not sure what your religious background is (and to some extent, working in the Public Education System, it doesn’t matter) but some of the methods and timings for each age group may be helpful. They have also written it up in a journal article somewhere, but I can’t find that article at the moment. Sorry.

      http://www.meditationwithchildren.com/childrensprogramme.html

  2. karlao says:

    I have recently started yoga with my drama students and have incoporated it into my english classes as well. they were all quite willing to participate and many have noticed some real calming effects. I am hoping to offer it in PE this year as I am allocated to teach it this year.

    Great blog, all the best with your studies this year. If you need anything feel free to contact me on twitter @karlao_dtn

    I have a drama blog too: http://dramateachersnetwork.wordpress.com

    • thepomoslso says:

      Hiya Karla,
      Thanks for the link. I subscribed in Google Reader.
      You know as an aide, I have to accompany students to all sorts of classes and drama, by far, is my favourite. The teachers use so many techniques to get the kids learning, without them being aware that they are learning.
      I am completely heartened that you are going to teach yoga in PE. You know they call it PD/H/PE and this is the first time I have seen all these three focus areas combined in one activity!

      Good luck with the yoga. I will be very excited to read about it, if you choose to blog about its effects. If you do an incoming and outgoing surveymonkey with the students, then other teachers might be able to share your data to support programs they want to introduce?

  3. Milesmac says:

    I first heard Kabat-Zinn on NPR’s podcast series “Speaking of Faith”. It is a great show with people who have things to say about caring for our minds and spirits that transcends religion. Really enjoying your blog!

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