Meditation in Schools Project – Sessions at Gordano School

Mind Space is currently running a series of 6 meditation classes for a group of 16 year old students in Portishead, Bristol.
A unique and innovative program of guided meditations.
Students have signed up and chosen to attend the program at Gordano School.
Below is an update of how the sessions are running on week 3

Updated October 6th 2011
Written by Liese Stanley 
(Liese Stanley is a Mind Space Schools Speaker based in Portishead, Bristol and is delivering
the meditation sessions at Gordano School
– Learn more about Voluntary Speaker network here.)

Session 1

I was initially surprised to see the boy/girl ratio. Only 1 girl but 8 boys.
Not everybody on the list had turned up- it would seem some were legitimately absent but some just unaccounted for. As this is an electives afternoon it is not a typical part of their curriculum but they tell me that they are meant to attend chosen courses.

The room we have is actually a common room and used through lunchtimes so as soon as I come in I open blinds and windows and turn off electric lights.
Move tables to the back of the room and pull chairs to the front but leave them to place the chairs where they want, I sit to the front, facing them in a kind of semi-circle.

Began with a switching off of phones, and we chat about their thoughts and expectations for meditation, introduced myself , Mind Space and background.

Really good comments, 1 person has tried meditation before. It’s a new course and I feel that their personalities will come through more given time.
We begin a meditation within 10 minutes as it feels right to practice rather than talk and I think it will ease the apprehension.

Begin with 5 minutes of body scanning before focusing on the breath, using counting for 5 minutes and then we drop the count and sit for a further 5 minutes.

No heckling, giggling or disturbance and I am impressed with their openness to a new experience as well as feeling very relieved!

We chat about how it went and discuss the last time they may have sat still, with no mobile, TV, ipod, book, computer etc. Also discussed expectations of meditation and suggested that if they wanted to feel blissed out, or have a blank mind that they were in the wrong room!

However, it would help with stress, focus, relaxation and self-understanding.

Went into the same meditation again but this time for 20 minutes. I really wanted them to feel that they were getting used to the practice itself. Left them deciding how they might incorporate meditation into a more daily practice, even 10 minutes at a time.

Find our more about the Meditation in Schools Project here and how you can become involved

 

Session 2

Only 6 of us this week. Again some legitimate reasons for abscence and 2 people did join us later when they could, quietly slipping into the room and sitting and joining in with on-going meditations.
We discussed posture more, in response to their questions, and they also told me of a history lesson that discussed a meditating monk who set fire to himself in response to the Vietnamese war. Didn’t see that one coming!
This week we started with a 20 minute body scan. This seems to really calm the atmosphere as until then they have been rushing around, studying and some have just been out of the school during lunchtime or in the 6th form common room (believe me they are leaving behind some LOUD music and chat).

Most had done at least a couple of meditations of their own, or downloaded, through the week and we discuss how they might build on these and blocks that stop them.

Also discuss and do a short 5 minute meditation that they could use when feeling particularly stressed and they want to discuss visualization and how that might work.

We finish the session with a longer meditation which is interrupted by 2 teachers walking in at different times, but the class remains unfazed and continue.

It is the teachers who look shocked, perhaps at finding us in the room as there is no noise to alert them to our presence, perhaps at finding quiet students, perhaps wondering what the heck we are doing.

Session 3
There are 12 of us today. Another girl has joined us as well as a new 2 new boys. As the body scan worked so well last week we start the session again with that and again they all seem to get a lot out of it.

This is the first week that I have had to ask them to start chatting amongst themselves so we can all listen to each other. Good in as much as they are wanting to discuss, not so good in as much as I am not a teacher and don’t feel confident or comfortable in the role of “controlling a class”. ??It doesn’t get to that but it does raise my awareness of thinking of some techniques to bring us back together rather than everybody start chatting amongst themselves for too long. I would like them to get used to listening to each other one at a time as they all have great comments and experiences are all different. I decide to try putting together a meditation mood board so have asked them all to bring in something next week, a quote, colour, image-anything at all that conjurs up their feeling for meditation. They can then describe why they chose it and as they seem such an artistic bunch I hope that a visual will help them explore their own ideas about meditation.
Who knows? At least they get a chance to speak one at a time.
Before the final meditation some of them ask again about posture. It is clear that some of them want to try sitting  on the floor. We go through possible options and 2 sit in a semi lotus but on chairs, and 4 in semi-lotus on the floor. The 20 minute breathing meditation goes well again, the energy in the group is definitely lifted.

This week really showed them coming out of themselves and more relaxed and confident with the idea and practice of meditation. My thoughts when I leave them are -how do I keep them focused- and when might the heckling start?!!