Today we continued our mindfulness training series with more hands-on activities. John showed us several different breathing techniques and challenged us with a fun communication activity. We learned about the heart breath, the 3-minute breath, and the hourglass breath. We are getting used to John’s gong which he rings every now and then and reminds us to pause and be mindful. Situated in the “mountain pose” from yoga (or what some call the athletic stance), we monitor our breath and gently nudge our thoughts back if they veer off-track. We learned more about more of the neuroscience behind meditation and mindfulness. The parasympathetic and sympathetic systems both play a role as do different parts of the brain like the amygdala and frontal lobes.
Administrators and students were also assigned a task where each of us received individual pictures that we were asked to put in order of events. Sounds easy, but when you’re not allowed to see your peers’ pictures, things get interesting! The students communicated well and successfully completed the task. We paused afterwards to allow for some self-reflection: How did we feel during this half hour long problem solving activity? How did we perceive our fellow classmates and teachers felt during it? Words like inspired, excited, overwhelmed, content, patient, proud, capable, and even anxious were all available as choices. Identifying these feelings helped us take inventory of our individual states of mind, and also was an opportunity for our students to hear positive feedback from their peers. What looked like chaos at first turned into a productive calm and pictures from the training show the students hard at work.
Our final activity was an exercise in mindful eating. A “foreign object” was distributed to each of us as we pretended to be aliens encountering an earthling object for the first time. We had to use all of our senses to describe the object: It was red and yellow, felt squishy, smelled fruity and sweet, and even made a bit of a noise. When we got to taste it, we were in for a treat: gummy fruit penguins! This simple exercise made us realize how slowing down allows our physical systems to get in sync while eating to make it a more fulfilling experience.
For next week, we were tasked with checking out another website (http://smilingmind.com.au/), trying to eat at least one meal mindfully, and applying mindfulness to an activity, like brushing our teeth (how does the toothpaste look, smell, sound, feel, taste?) We are excited to see what challenges (and rewards) John brings us next week!
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