PEACE in the classroom
When I was at school, meditation was for Indian mystics and hippies. No teacher I knew ever talked about the importance of trying to still the mind, or how to deal skillfully with disturbing emotions in a way that would help us kids better navigate the trials and tribulations encountered at home or in the school yard.
These days, it’s a very different story. Mindfulness practice has become mainstream and that means even schoolteachers are now using it in their classrooms.
One person who’s had considerable experience teaching these practices to schoolchildren is holistic physician and mindfulness coach Dr Amy Saltzman. We are delighted that Saltzman is presenting a session called Still quiet place within at Mind & Its Potential in October. She’s also leading a post conference workshop.
In this presentation she begins by saying her preferred definition of mindfulness is “paying attention to life here and now with kindness and curiosity.” She also talks to students about the “still quiet place inside of them”, and that this stillness and quietness is in them all the time, no matter what they’re doing or how they feel.
When Saltzman directs kids in a guided meditation, her aim is to give them tools they can use in their everyday life. “What mindfulness makes possible is choice. This awareness of our internal environment is what allows us to choose how we interact with our external environment.”
Saltzman describes a practice she’s developed called PEACE, which is an acronym and stands for the following:
P=Pause. Simply being aware that something is difficult and pausing.
E=Exhale. After you exhale, inhale, exhale and inhale … for as long as you need to.
A=Acknowledge/Accept/Allow. Things are difficult. You feel what you feel. Life is what it is. But this doesn’t mean you have to like it.
C=Choose. What do you want to do next? At its best, choosing involves clarity, courage, creativity and comedy (humour).
E=Engage … again in the situation.
Saltzman observes that kids who regularly practice mindfulness experience more “almost moments”, that space of time that’s just long enough to choose NOT to act out in a way that’s going to result in painful consequences.
Given the soaring incidence of depression, anxiety and suicide in young people today, Saltzman says, “These ‘almost moments’ really matter. Giving children the skills to have their thoughts and feelings, to know what they’re thinking and feeling without their thoughts and feelings having them is huge”.
Do your children meditate? What positive changes in them have you observed?