January 24, 2014
I once used a 3rd grade algebra book to learn enough algebra to pass a college math test. I just ran into another opportunity to learn along with children.
Click here for the link to a project that’s transforming the experience of elementary school children from out of control and chaotic to one that is fostering a degree of growth and learning that was unimaginable for these kids before the project was implemented.
Jean-Gabrielle Larochette is an elementary school teacher. He began practicing meditation and mindfulness to cope with the stress of working with traumatized kids in a low income school in California. He quickly realized that what was working for him might also benefit his kids.
He implemented a program that teaches mindfulness skills through present moment awareness, breath work, yoga, and art.
As I read the article and watched the video I realized that almost everything they were teaching those kids would benefit me and my clients. Currently we tell kids what we want from them—pay attention, think before you act, make good choices, get good grades—but we don’t tell them how to do it.
“When we look at low-performing schools it’s not that these children are unable to learn, it’s that very often they are unavailable to learn,” said Madeline Kronenberg, a West Contra Costa County school board member. “They’re not able to focus; they’re so fixated on other things that are going on in their lives that it’s difficult for them to be able to find space for learning. Our job is to educate these kids and the way you educate them is that they need to be available to learn.”
Can’t the same thing be said of us grownups?! There have been times I’ve felt like a gerbil in a cage—running, running, running just to keep up so that no one will notice that I’m going nowhere. We need to learn how to do it differently. And we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from what’s working with our children.
I really, really hope you’ll read the article and watch the video because there’s something about them both that speaks to what I suspect is the heart of the matter. If we’re not present and able to focus and attend to the complexities of our lives, we really aren’t living them—rather we’re like children pretending we know what we’re doing but actually living in a way that’s self defeating and life extinguishing.
I’m also including a link here to basic meditation instructions on my website. There are many, many great mindfulness and meditation resources on the internet and I hope that if this has stimulated your interest you’ll continue exploring the how to’s of meeting the present moment with openness, willingness and curiosity.