Saturday, April 22, 2017

Master of Mindfulness

Master of Mindfulness

Picture book
"When someone cut in front of me in line at the cafeteria, I
used mindfulness to settle myself down and just let it be. Before I
would get mad, push back, or hit someone. Sometimes we'd end up
fighting and get in trouble. It's not worth it. It's easier to take a
few breaths and calm down."
Unless you are a hermit you have probably heard of mindfulness.
I find its current popularity to be a double edged sword. On one
hand, I am glad that so many people are learning about it. However, I
cringe when I see it hyped as panacea. Americans have a cycle of
latching onto a solve all, expecting too much, and rejecting it in
favor of the next magic bullet.
It's time for us to realize that to fully live we need whole
tool kits that will vary from person to person. We need to value
mindfulness for what it can be: a major tool in many people's boxes.
It doesn't require expensive equipment or lessons. It can be
practiced by people at any stage on life. There is no one way to do
it. (I balk at mindful dish washing.)
Mindfulness can be very useful for children because they tend to
feel strongly about and react quickly to the hurts and slights in
their lives. In today's high stakes environment kids can be taken
from school in handcuffs for doing stuff that would have been handled
more safely by a principal or guidance counselor in earlier days.
Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of
Stress (Gotta love the title) by Laurie Grossman, Angelina Alverez,
and Mr. Musameci's 5th grade class is a wise teacher investment.
The beauty of the book is its unusual blend of theory and down
to earth. There are instructions for a number of techniques that a
child, family, or class can use and adapt to "stay grounded in
calmness during the moment to moment chaos of life" (Mesumeci). In my
mind, though, the biggest strength of the book is the artwork and
narratives of the 5th graders. They are very candid about the reasons
they use mindfulness: to not fight when provoked (see lead quote), to
not leave a game when hit on the face by a ball, to stay calm when
being picked up late, to handle sadness when a relative moves away, to
not procrastinate when faced with a difficult assignment...
A copy of Master of Mindfulness would be a wise investment for
classroom teacher or camp counselor. There are many ways to make its
contents hands on. A class could make their own booklet and print it
with a copy for each family. This could help the parents understand
what stresses and challenges the kids experience. And what about
older kids, say middle schoolers, working with younger kids? We learn
best the lessons we also teach. The possibilities are numerous.
On a personal note, the Thursday of Pride Week we had an LGBTQ tea
party. We talked about Pride Week history and drag shows. The place
was packed; the conversations were lively. Then Dean Robert Q. Dana
threw a Pride Week reception in the Deanery. The food was
fabulous. I especially liked the meatballs, the cranberry fizz punch,
and the cookies with frosting rainbows. Dean Dana himself circulated
through the crowd, meeting and greeting. He sure does know how to
throw a shindig!
A great big shout out goes out to all who participated.
jules hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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