Today my class engaged in their first mindfulness session, facilitated by Ara Simmons and Chris Bush. I am really privileged to work with these ladies and to carry out the 'Pause, Breathe, Smile' programme over the course of the term. While I have run a few mindfulness activities before, seeing it put together as a full session was really helpful for me to learn more about the way that it can be taught.
After some introductions and a quick chat about mindfulness and being present in the moment, we started with a short breathing exercise using a Tibetan singing bowl. This was a hit with my learners (and myself) as we all felt relaxed listening to the bell ring. We then completed a mindful eating activity where we looked at, smelt, held and tasted a piece of chocolate. We discussed how eating the chocolate mindfully made it taste different to some of us. Finally we took part in a guided meditation and shared our thoughts about the way we felt during this time.
I was really impressed with my class and how well they took to the session. It had a huge calming effect on my learners and we had a lovely reading lesson afterwards, where we all completed our allocated tasks. Most of the learners noted feeling calm, relaxed and happy during this time and I hope to recreate this environment during short mindfulness activities over the course of the week.
Of course, it great for me to have the chance to be calm and present with the class; positive reinforcement came easily and there was no need to 'growl' at bad behaviour. However, it made me realise how well the children responded to the slow calm commands made by Chris, Ara and the videos that we used. At times I can be quite excitable when I teach and at times I can talk quite quickly to my learners, which I would like to work on. I think these mindfulness sessions will support me to slow my voice and to teach more calmly; I will be considering how Chris and Ara achieve this as the term goes on.