Many St. Bernard’s students have welcomed the routine of meditation into their school days. Teachers throughout the school are giving their students tools to check in with themselves and create a meditative practice that works.
As early as kindergarten, boys are taught the basics of meditation and know that when the lights go off it’s time to place their heads on their desks and meditate. In addition to meditation, kindergarten boys practice yoga poses in P.E. and in the classroom, where the Child’s Pose is a favorite.
Children in first grade begin their library period lying on the carpet listening to a guided meditation. Mr. Schwartz has found an app with animations that are especially effective with his students. He reminds the boys that they may notice a lot of repetition. He compares the process to learning to ride a bicycle. Boys will learn new skills and experience moments of accomplishment, such as removing the training wheels. They will encounter changing weather and terrain, and through all of this, they will continue to improve and get better at the practiced skill.
Third grade teachers have successfully integrated meditation into their weekly routine. While each teacher approaches it differently to accommodate their group of boys, they make sure that their students participate in guided meditation three to five times per week. Teachers use an app and guide some of the meditations themselves. They are pleased that the boys have become comfortable with the routine of meditation. The boys understand that meditation is not silly, rather that it is a time to focus on each of them individually. Students notice how beneficial meditation can be to their learning, their minds, and their bodies.
Third grade teachers have found it helpful to focus on breathing during the guided meditations. They also have found that concrete examples help the boys to conceptually understand meditation practices. Sometimes they refer to the brain as a filing cabinet which needs to be cleared out and reorganized from time to time. Ms. Wagner led her students on color meditations. Each boy wrote a color poem, and as they listened to music they were asked to think about how their colors changed and expanded with the music. They discussed their color poems as a class and referred to them in further meditations. Third grade teachers are especially happy to hear their students develop a language to talk about mindfulness and how their bodies feel. Each boy has developed an individualized list of items to run through when checking in with his body and mind. Third graders seem eager to share their meditative explorations. During an exercise where boys visualized a waterfall of falling numbers, one boy exclaimed with joy, “I started to become the number!”
Mindfulness continues into Middle School. Mr. Clavel guides his students through a breathing exercise at least once a day. He encourages his students to sit up straight and focus on their breath. He has found that it helps the boys focus and relax. Students in drama club meditate and try to listen to their bodies. One of Mr. Schwartz’s favorite activities is called Pinocchio, where the boys imagine they are made out of wood. Joint by joint they imagine what it feels like to have the spark of light ignited inside them. As they move their necks or wiggle each finger they focus intently on that body part and what it feels like to move and come to life.
It is refreshing to see that during the busy days of learning, St. B’s students and teachers are taking the time and energy to self-reflect.