For all you School Teachers out there, this is a beautiful paper written by a te...

For all you School Teachers out there, this is a beautiful paper written by a teacher in Canada. This came after she attended The Meditation Initiative's workshop hosted by BOOST Collaborative. Yes, it is a bit long for FB, but worth the read...

Bringing Meditation into Your School

I recently attended the BOOST (Best Out-Of-School Time) Conference in Palm Springs California. Prior to the conference, the workshop that caught my eye was called “Meditation for Daily Living” by Jeffrey Zlotnik, founder of the “Meditation Initiative” in San Diego California. Prior to this school year, I really didn’t know much about meditation besides the breathing exercise I have my students do during yoga classes. At Fort Richmond we are lucky to have an educational assistant who is a certified mediation instructor name Judith Burch. After getting to know her and learning about her expertise, I thought it would be great to try with my classes during a stress management unit. The classes she did were amazing. I was nervous about the students not respecting the topic and their maturity throughout the classes – but I was pleasantly surprised. There was one particular student (who would be the first to admit that PE class is not her favorite subject) that loved it so much she went home and taught the breathing exercises to her mom to help her reduce stress. Judith’s classes not only had a positive effect on my students, but on me as well. I could immediately feel the benefits to my own health and well-being. I truly didn’t think this was something I could teach to the students with my limited knowledge, until I went to Jeffrey’s workshop at the BOOST Conference.

As with most workshops, I believe we always hope that there will be something simple that we can immediately add to our teaching practices that won’t take hours of planning before implementation. This is exactly what I got from “Meditation for Daily Living”. In fact, I used it three days later with a group of 55 girls I had on a “Girl Power” field trip at the U of M. As Jeff explained in the workshop, most people think meditation is not something they would be interested in. He said if you google meditation, you will mostly likely find a website “selling” meditation or a link to some sort of religious/spiritual program. Truly meditation is for everyone, it’s free and it’s as simple as taking a few minutes out of your day to pay attention to what keeps us alive – your breath. Distractions, stressors, other people, negativity will always be there, but if we can learn to calm ourselves for a few moments a day through breathing exercises, our reaction to these stressors will inevitably become more positive.

As stated on the Meditation Initiative website, their “ approach of using meditation as a mindfulness education has been well received by the public and private school systems as well as many other institutions”. In addition to schools, Jeff has worked in colleges, hospitals, prisons, military groups, and group homes for victims of domestic violence to name a few.

I could go on and on about the benefits of bringing this into a school, but I want to share with you something you can use right away to try for yourself, your family or your students! Jeff has done this with people as young as 3 years old, so truly any grade level can work. We talked a lot about students being distracted etc. as that is inevitable, but with practice and letting those distractions from our students happen, we can achieve goals for stress relief and focus. The following is a guided script that we were given at the workshop and are allowed to share with others. Reading through the script is easy. I would suggest trying it yourself first, and then bringing it to other people.

Beginning Meditation
• Start with taking 3 deep breaths
• As you settle into a natural rhythm of the breath, knowing throughout the practice you will hear sounds inside the room, sounds outside, these are not distractions, not disruptions, simply what’s happening around us as we sit and breathe. (30 second pause)
• Begin to notice the mind as it wanders, jumping from thought to thought. Gently guide the attention and focus to the stomach or chest. As you breathe in feel them rise, breathing out feel them fall. (30 second pause)
• Simply continuing this practice, observing sensation of breath(30 second pause)
• Where is your mind? Are you stuck in the past? Jumping to the future? Release that thought, returning attention to the breath (30 second pause)
• Breathing in, follow the breath in, breathing out, follow the breath out (30 second pause)
• Where is your mind? Gently guiding attention back to the breath (30 second pause)
• Letting go of expectations or judgments of your practice, just sitting and breathing (30 second pause)
• Breathing in, feeling the stomach rise. Breathing out, feel the stomach fall (30 second pause)
• Learning to be comfortable in stillness (30 second pause)
• Knowing what it is like to just sit and breathe (30 second pause)
• Again, taking 3 deep breaths
• Slowly open the eyes, slowly begin to move

A brief paragraph from the handout regarding what to do after meditation is as follows: “The most important part of practice is right now, after, when you realize that any sort of quiet, still, peace, calm that you feel or any sort of busy or racing mind you may have now has nothing to do with anything I said, has nothing to do with how you sit or cross your legs and it has nothing to do with the sound of a bell. It has everything to do with your own mind and your own mind’s reaction to an external situation. What we realize from the practice of meditation is that things happen and we react, more things happen, more reactions. This is our life every day, every moment regardless of who we are, where we come from or what we believe in. Most people respond to meditation quietly, peacefully. But the question is how do you respond to everything else that happens in your life?”.

The Meditation Initiative is a non-profit organization in San Diego, California. The website is
www.meditationinitiative.org. If you are interested in looking at the handout I received in its entirety (explains what to do prior to meditation, posture and after meditation), please email me at krshiach@pembinatrails.ca. I really think this is a valuable tool for all of our students and would love to share more information with you.


The Meditation Initiative
meditationinitiative.org
Home page of The Meditation Initiative. The Meditation Initiative provides free meditation sessions to help decrease stress, lower anxiety, reduce anger, and improve focus and concentration. We provide free community outreach to K-12 Public Schools, Colleges, Hospitals, Prisons, Diabetes Patients, H…

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