Monday, March 23, 2015

Walking Cheerfully, Mindfully Over the World

Color water drop by Worldizen
  1. 1.
    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. "their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
  2. 2.
    a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Definition courtesy Google search. 

Mindfulness is making lots of news these days, being touted by teachers, healers, and mystics alike. It is a powerful practice and can be quite fun to teach! Mindfulness practice can be used to enhance the core skills essential to learning: observation, awareness, an open attitude, concentration, curiosity. Guided mindfulness meditations can reduce stress and the negative impact of pain. 

Centering is a related, but different skill:

noun -- medical dictionary

Any method used by a person to calm himself physically, mentally, or emotionally, usually in preparation for performing an activity requiring concentration- e.g., meditation, an exam, or a sports competition  

"Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet." ― Thích Nhất HạnhPeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

"Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one." -- George Fox, 1656 

In a world chock full of over-stimulation and distraction, both these practices can be a real gift. As a Quaker, and a Quaker educator, I have had the pleasure of attending workshops and practicing with others often. Now that I've moved to Midcoast, I'm looking forward to sharing a few favorite introductions to the practice, especially with the children during the next few first day lessons.  


The Mindful Quaker: A brief introduction to Buddhist wisdom for Friends is an introductory pamphlet written in 2006 by Valerie Brown, a Buddhist and Quaker. It is available as an e-book or in paper. If you're interested in learning how to start out with mindfulness meditation, I can recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn's work, especially Wherever you go, there you are.  Teachers may enjoy this collection of essays, edited by Quaker educator Irene McHenry, Tuning In: Mindfulness in teaching and learning. And if you can't wait to try it out, UCLA's Mindful Awareness Center offers an introduction to mindfulness and meditation by serving up playable guided meditations free on its website.