Mindfulness and learning

The Current recently replayed a program on Mindfulness in the classroom. The setting was a Toronto school known for high standards and performance anxiety. Students who had used mindfulness strategies consistently reported decreased stress, less anxiety, increased grades and confidence with performance. These results are supported in the literate by Ed Sarath, Tobin Hart, The Garrison Institute and others. It also bares out in my own experience as a Clinical Therapist in a school setting. Some students quickly learned to manage their anxiety through mindful breathing and or a chewing exercise. The pushback often comes in the form of likening mindfulness practices to religion. “Why is mindfulness permitted, clearly from Buddhism, when saying the Lord’s Prayer is not?” In response I would say that having students recite The Lord’s Prayer would be more like having students chant the Kama Sutra than providing the opportunity to sit quietly for a few minutes focused on breathing. The latter looks exactly like ‘Centring Prayer’ from the Christian tradition. We often overlook, consciously or otherwise, how many of our daily practices at work or school are built upon ancient wisdom traditions. These traditions have been around for thousands of years because they hold wisdom that translates well across time and place. Restorative justice circles, yoga, contemplative movement, repetitive verse, artistic expression and more have all come from or been informed by the great spiritual traditions of the world. Religion is often defined as formal, organized and dogmatic. Clearly this is not for everyone. It is ok to draw upon aspects of religion that are helpful and suitable for you personally without the fear...

New Growth

Where I sit at my desk and look out my window pretty much all I see are tall, gracious Hemlock trees with little bits of sky poking through. This time of year the lacey branches flaunt their new growth. Each branch is adorned with bright, green fingers declaring their vitality and survival through an especially long winter. Despite the clouds of pollen that fall from this new growth I really enjoy the contrasting colours of the old and new green. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we humans, beyond the age of growth spurts, could somehow display our growth visibly. What if the internal growth of mind and spirit that continues throughout our lifespan was visible for all to see? Would this be helpful to those around us, somehow lifting others up as well? Our growth is apparent to some, but it is very subtle, if not invisible, to others. How do I know if you have had a rise in creativity or an emotional breakthrough?  Does it require a willingness to reaveal or an acute sense of perception?  Or both?  Nature flaunts its growth for all to see.  Very often we hold back and even deny the richness and beauty of our skills when sharing them could actually be a help to others.  Where do you fall on the continuum of celebration and self...

Leading with your heart

I think I missed the 70’s and the whole tie-dye thing. I want you to know I am making up for it now. This week I created many more silk/wool scarves, each one a unique colour and design. It reminds me of many years ago opening my kiln after a crystalline glaze firing.  I will continue to add scarf photos to my website under Creative Endeavours and you can also see them at the Cosmic Hippie Boutique in Mahone Bay. I’m not doing t-shirts generally but I have to say these were fun to produce. The idea of putting one’s heart front and centre, (as well as on the sleeve), really appeals to me. If I put my heart first; i.e. compassion, love, generosity, genuineness, respect, belief in the goodness of others, and so on, I find I am more content and more often attract similar values from others. And sometimes not. There is no guarantee but at least I know I have offered my best. What do you think? What is your experience with putting your heart...