As my doctoral mentor Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of mindfulness-based stress reduction programs worldwide, says about teaching mindfulness to children: “What could be more important than learning and practicing how to pay attention, how to be more present, and how to be comfortable in one's own skin, with one's own thoughts and feelings and body? What could be more important than learning and practicing how to be kind to oneself and others? Aren’t these lessons exactly what we hope our children will learn?”
Equally important is for parents to embrace these mindfulness practices as well. As Wellness Director at BFA, I strongly encourage all parents to express curiosity and encouragement about Home Team practice. While greeting parents and students in the car line at Lighthouse, one mother of three BFA students proudly and enthusiastically shared with me that her children are “competing” to share the Qi Tree morning practice. “I just love it,” she said. “What everyone is doing at BFA is great!” Let your children become your teacher with what they are learning in school!
We will be starting to extend our mindfulness practice in the morning by adding “Stillness” in the second nine weeks. The five morning sessions are: Mindful Listening; Mindful Breathing; Flower, Mountain, Sky; Body Scan, and Joy of Stillness and Nourishment. The Stillness practice will further promote benefits of focus and concentration derived from Qi Tree exercises.
Being silent and sitting in straight posture focusing on breathing directions will hone listening and learning skills and develop control of thoughts and emotions, very powerful lifelong lessons and beneficial to classroom behavior. These mindfulness practices are also beneficial to teachers, perhaps in some ways even more than the children who already live very much in the present moment without being anxiety-riddled preoccupied with past and future. This innate quality of openness and presence will be reinforced and developed deeply with morning Qi Tree and Stillness practices.