Last week on twitter, I happened to come across @Samsherrat talking about mindfulness. He asked me to write a post on my experience as a classroom teacher.
Hence this post ...
We have been practicing mindfulness in our class from the very first day of school. Initially, it was hard to keep the students focused...they stirred and giggled and whispered to one another. Some struggled to keep their eyes closed, while others shuffled uncomfortably. Rustling sounds and nervous coughs pervaded the room. One girl complained that she felt sleepy after meditation. Another grumbled the next day when I asked them to close their eyes. But, like an adamant bull, I persisted. Today, the students eagerly remind me of this time. The class becomes still and silent as syncopated breathing becomes the order of the day.
The reason I persisted with this practice was because I have experienced the joys of meditation and seen how it has benefitted people around me. My parents meditate for an hour every morning. They are old, yet how healthy and happy they are! My dad's dysfunctional lung (written off by the medics) is as healthy as can be today! Mom and dad wont start their day without meditation.
There seems to be something magnetic and alluring about it which cannot be explained unless you experience it.
Having lived in India for a while, I have seen how mindfulness and yoga are a part of daily lives of people. Not some fad that has suddenly caught on. It was therefore a tad annoying to read a comment on twitter where someone (no names mentioned) totally brushed aside the efficacy of this practice stating that there was no research to back the practice of mindfulness in the classroom. Of course, I had to disagree. I was subsequently told off for ignoring the advice of some expert (whose name I couldn't really bother to remember) who found meditation pointless. But this I have to say...I know my students fairly well. Of course, there may be many things I do not know about them, but I have made it my business to know them as well as I can. And I know that our morning sessions have established a calming routine which we all look forward to.
How does mindfulness look like in our classroom?
Every two weeks, two students take on the duty of the class "zen masters". They conduct the meditation. As students meditate, they guide them. If necessary, they gently tap the back of someone who happens to be slouching.
When we open our eyes, the world appears brighter. Life seems to be good. A feeling of calmness descends upon our class.
Listen to what my students have to say about meditation in this voice thread: