A big component of the “Wellness” theme in our Humanities class over the past several weeks has been mindfulness. We end every single session with a mindfulness activity. We started with relaxing activities that brought our attention to different parts of our bodies (like a quick body scan or breathing exercises). I knew I had them hooked when they came into class asking, “What are we doing for mindfulness today?”
From there, I was lucky to have my mom come to my classes to walk us through some mindful yoga practices. She did such a wonderful job explaining how yoga can capture your attention and focus in the moment. Every student was engaged and did their very best to keep up with the flow of movements. We discovered how challenging yoga can be for the body and mind along with how exhilarating yet calming it can also be. It was such a great day!
We took advantage of the weather last week and went on a “rainbow” walk, heightening our sense of sight to identify items or objects outside in as many colors as we could find. We lay silently in the grass and heightened our sense of hearing while identifying all of the sounds around us we hadn’t noticed before.
The past two weeks, we have connected mindfulness strategies to having feelings of stress and anxiety to help bring ourselves back to a balanced focus. We have used breathing techniques to “ground” ourselves, and just last week we used artistic expression as a mindful, stress-relieving activity. We imagined a piece of paper represented an overwhelming task or cause of stress, and we tore that piece of paper into tiny, more manageable pieces to create something creative and positive (a mosaic). I was surprised at how many students really loved this activity.
This week, we are approaching mindfulness from a new direction. Practicing mindful listening led to some really profound and sensitive conversations yesterday. The discussions took an unanticipated turn in every single class, which confirmed my intentions. When we listen mindfully to others, we show them we care about what they have to say, and we establish a new level of trust and respect. It is no wonder that when my students were listening mindfully to one another, many of them felt comfortable sharing personal stories, some leading members of our group to tears.
I am reminded frequently how lucky I am to work with such a kind and insightful group of students. The relationships they are building with one another and the circle of trust we are establishing makes me so proud to have created an environment in which they feel comfortable and safe with me, Mr. Brown, and one another. I can only imagine what three years together will allow.