I’ve been working with quite a few schools recently.
Schools have regular Inset days for Continuing Professional Development and also ‘twilight’ training which happens at the end of the working day.
I’m full of admiration for schools and their staff. They are more and more stretched with less and less funding. Stress levels can be high among pupils and teachers too. So, to ask them to stay on for longer than usual to listen to someone like me talk about mindfulness or meditation is a big ask. There is naturally some resistance.
I turned up at a lovely local school recently with the Fusion Mindfulness Based Mind Management programme on a memory stick and some hand outs. I also had a collection of shells and stones with me and started the work shop with a request that everyone choose one object, place it in the palm of their hand and look at it for just one minute. I sensed a bit of despair from some parts of the room… as you can imagine.
When there is so much to do, why sit and stare at a stone?
There was, of course, a reason.
I always monitor outcomes and ask for written feedback. Right at the start of the mindfulness session, I asked staff to scale their ability to focus on the object, notice when their attention wandered and bring it back to the object. Then I asked them to re assess at the end of the session. The results were spectacular.
Against the odds, when many were tired and when some were at first resistant, (quite understandably) by the end of the session, there were shifts of up to 40% improvement in focus for the majority of participants.
Improvements in focus and concentration, the ability to switch off when you choose, sleep better at night and not feel overwhelmed by life, are just a few of the proven benefits of meditating for even just a few minutes a day.
I heard from the head teacher this morning. There had been some enthusiastic feedback. In less than two hours, teachers had learned several easy ways for them and their students to integrate mindfulness into every day and understood the benefits that would bring.
Actually, half of the problem with something like mindfulness is the idea that it’s ‘just something else to do.’ But, as the Buddhist Lama I studied with told me ‘I suggest to my own students to try meditating for half an hour every day to make the other twenty three and a half hours so much better!’
If your clients are a bit resistant to the idea of ‘just having something else to do’, tell them the story of The Tray. I hope it helps…
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Story: The Tray
Greg went into a wine bar with some work colleagues. It had been a stressful week at the office and they were all feeling a bit tired and frazzled.
But it was the start of the weekend and it was also Greg’s birthday. ‘Drinks on me’ he said and started taking orders as they all sat down at a table in the corner.
‘I’ll have a white wine’ said Jill. ‘And me’ said Jane, ‘but make that a red.’ ‘Mine’s a pint’ said Bob. As the orders built, Greg’s anxiety built too.
He fought his way through the crowd and finally got to the bar to place the order. ‘Do you want a tray to carry that on?’ asked the bar man.
‘For heaven’s sake’ said Greg ‘Don’t give me something else to hold!’
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