I’m leading a Mindfulness class this block, though certainly I’m no Zen master. I say leading rather than “teaching,” because in truth I’m taking the course along with the students. I’m more of a curator/facilitator than teacher. Luckily, the world and the internet are full of resources for learning mindful practices. I am getting so much out of this experience, and I think the students are too.
Our chief resource is the text, “Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World” by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. It’s perfect for us, right down to the eight weeks, which is how long our block is. The book does not assume we have any experience with mindful practice, which is great, because most of us don’t. With a focus on the scientifically documented benefits of meditation, the book walks us through a series of audio meditations and exercises. We’re half way through the block, and already the group is comfortable staying in meditation for more than twice as long as we could at first.
Each class is 90 minutes, so I’m supplementing the lessons and guided meditations with work from other current gurus, from Benjamin Zander to Thich Nhat Hahn. Here’s a link to the syllabus if you’re interested: LINK.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to develop my own mindful practice, but the best part is that I feel like I’m sharing some incredibly useful tools and insights with my students. Many of my students are saying that they are meditating outside of class as well (which is part of their homework.) They are reporting increased calm in their lives, and expanded perspectives.
People of all ages benefit from meditation and mindful practice- the science is there, study after study. But for adolescents especially, mindfulness can be powerful. Our youth are dealing with so much- constantly “on” in a world where our problems and tragedies are front and center 24-7. It’s overwhelming. Meditation creates space, and the other ideas I’m sharing in class offer a variety of perspectives on living positively, or “whole-heartedly,” as Brene Brown would say. It’s an honor to be able to share these tools and ideas with my students.