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@ Mindfulness at Robert C. Parker School

Here is a wonderful blog by Meg Taylor Head of Robert C. Parker School (1) on how the school is introducing mindfulness in various modes. Focusing on breathing (2) is a popular mode in the elementary grades, now being extended to the middle school.

” Learning to channel attention to productive tasks, to sustain motivation when work becomes demanding, and to handle the frustrations of sharing, learning, and communicating with peers are skills that depend on the ability to understand and manage emotions.

As one part of our effort to help children build emotional resiliency and self control, we use mindfulness techniques with them every day. Our faculty has worked with C S Rao (3), a grandparent in our school, to learn a form of breathing (2) that allows us to quickly relax and tune out distractions. He calls it ‘Counting Breaths’ (2) and it has the effect of feeding oxygen to the brain, calming emotions, clearing a busy mind, and giving a sense of peace and focus.

Teachers have adapted CS’s ideas for classroom practice. In Pre K 3, a chime is rung and children breathe smoothly and quietly, as the chime sound diminishes.

In Pre K 4, students use the image of falling leaves while they breathe.

In K-1, Liliana has adopted the language “going into your silence” as children sit quietly in both mind and body and breath slowly.

Grade 2-3’s practice taking five slow clearing breaths as do the 4-5’s. (4)

This year middle school teachers are going to teach the students CS’s method of using the fingers to count breaths. As CS says, the technique can be used anytime – when you can’t sleep at night, or if you are feeling anxious (5). And it works! I use it in the middle of the night when my mind is racing (6).

The effect with children is very positive. They have a strategy to calm themselves that they can use anywhere. It is a great tool for successfully negotiating frustrations, stress and anxiety and gaining attentiveness and focus. Having the ability to be mindful gives children confidence that they can handle difficult things (7). That is a gift for any individual.

You can read more in this complex and fascinating article “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”, in Mind/Shift (8).”

(1) Perspectives on Parker Blogspot
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(3) Suryanarayana Chennapragada
(4) Breathing breaks in the classroom – Report by Lynn Schuster
(5) Daytime practice
(6) How to Enjoy Quality Sleep and Conquer Insomnia?
(7) Benefits for Mind, Body and Relationships
(8) “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”  Post in Mind/Shift

Related pages
Training children

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@ Improvements in patience, judging people and pains – Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

Meditation practices and experiences

When you count your breaths try not to say the numbers in your mind. You might try replacing one, two and three with red, green blue and as you mark each color in your mind try to visualize it. Or make up three syllables to replace the numbers: aaaa, raaa, hum for example.

When practicing meditation be extremely gentle and loving of yourself. Do not think badly of yourself if your mind strays, simply redirect. If you find a position or mental place that makes you feel good then allow yourself extra time there and try to go deeper into tranquility. When you are done, stretch like a cat in ways that feel good, scratch your scalp with your fingers and pat yourself quickly and firmly all over with your hands.

As a boy I had dreams that I could fly. It was not flying like superman, more like I had figured out the secret to undoing gravity. I would rise up above the sidewalk and slowly float down again; like a slow motion jump. At times I would get quite high up so that the town below me looked like scenery in a model railroad set. These dreams were always elating. I felt like the world was filled with many happy secrets and, maybe, I was able to figure them out. Sometimes I would awake, and in my half sleep, still believe in the possibility of levitating. This belief sometimes carried through the day. Meditation is beginning to create a similar feeling of elation in me. Although I am firmly planted in the “real” world, meditation gives me a glimpse of hidden possibilities and is restoring my belief in magic.

Changes I attribute to my daily meditation
  • Increased patience in traffic and with people
  • I am less likely to judge people in a bad way
  • The stretching has reduced some aches and pains I have had for a long time.

(1) Alfred

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