"We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be."
As a parent and a teacher at NIS, it’s great to see the learning that happens across the grade levels. The grade 5 teaching team has been getting guest speakers to come in as part of their Spark Talk Series. These ‘Spark’ talks are aimed at presenters sharing their authentic passions in life. It can be something that they are good at or anything that truly excites and motivates them. I was invited to speak to all of the grade 5 students this week and shared with them the passion that I have for health and well-being. This presentation led me to also speak about my mindfulness practice as a teacher and a person.
During my talk, I shared with the students how I began my journey in health as a registered nurse back in the 90s and it was through nursing that I developed a desire to work more on the preventative side of health. Becoming an educator allowed me to maintain my passion for health but to do so through school nursing. This journey in school nursing then led to me becoming a teacher.
One of the things that I love most about mindfulness is that it has the power to connect the minds and bodies of people. I told my students that one of my greatest joys in life is to connect people through mindfulness. Recently, in the mindfulness sessions I run for teachers and students, I’ve been trying out a new activity called 'back to back breath' that I first read about on edutopia.com here. I tweaked and modified the activity in my own way based on my teaching style. I’ve provided a detailed description of the activity below. If you try it out, let me know how it works for you or your students.
Back to Back Breath
Ensure that you try to partner people up with someone that they do not mind coming into physical contact with. They must be comfortable with the person they are paired with.
Sit each pair of people back to back so that they are equally connected. The shoulders meet, upper and lower backs connect. Get each person to sit tall and maintain equilibrium with their partner in regards to the pressure applied backward against each other.
Focus on the Breath
Most of our breathing is done through the front of our bodies, but in this activity we focus on breathing in through the back body. Get each pair of people to begin becoming mindful about each inhale and exhale feeling their breath connect with their partner through the back.
After about a half-minute into the activity have each person take their thumbs and place them under their arm pit and lift themselves up to open their chests broad and wide. After doing this opener, have them place their hands back down on their crossed legs and continue to mindfully breathe in and out. Continue this breathing for about three to four minutes.
Although this is meant to be a silent activity, I think it is alright to include music to help create a calm and peaceful environment. As I got ready for school on the morning of my presentation, my son was playing one of his favorite new songs. I thought that this song was perfect for the back to back breathing activity, so I used it with the students. I have included a You Tube link to this song below in case you want to try it out.
The students responded extremely well to this activity. I feel so incredibly rewarded when I can see that my mindfulness practice impacts young people in such a positive way. Here are some comments below:
“ I feel calm and relaxed.”
“I feel mentally stimulated.”
“The music and the breath made me feel happy.”
“It felt very peaceful.”
Sharing our true passions requires us to be our authentic selves without fear of being judged as right or wrong. May Sarton’s quote above sums up the importance of daring to be ourselves. I love this quote. Have a great weekend.
Strive to authentically connect with others, breath, and stay present.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily