Updated: Mar 21, 2022
UPDATE 03/2022: I was able to visit Ms. Brumley's classroom and do a meditation with her students. I don't even think describing what I did in the classroom comes close to Ms. Brumley's message to me the following day:
"Holy s***! I honestly, 100% believe that your visit, and those bowls! changed my life. It is way, way too much to go into, but I am 100% serious when I say that yesterday was a complete 180 from any other day that I have had this year with these kids. And those days were not good. Yesterday was a completely different experience and I feel like I made some really good headway in terms of healing these kids from the emotional trauma they have suffered the last 2 years. I don't even know how to thank you!" -Ms. Brumley
Here is how this all started:
Synchronicities like this are pure magic. Let me explain.
It all started years ago, really. But more specifically, a few months ago Karah Pino and I were brainstorming meditation curriculum that centers around our mentor, Patricia Anne Davis' teachings of Indigenous Navajo Wisdom. There are many steps to see this vision come to fruition, but we specifically discussed how important it is to bridge the younger generation of today's children into practice.
Then, out of the blue, an old high school friend and teammate of mine, Sadie McNeeley Brumley contacted me. I hadn't talked to Sadie in over 20 years, but she saw that I was doing meditations on Facebook and she reached out. Sadie has been teaching elementary school for the past 20 years. Sadie was gearing up to go back to school in-person and was concerned for the mental health of her kids after this long Covid year.
Sadie is a 3rd generation teacher who teaches a 4th, 5th & 6th grades Highly Capable class in the Snohomish School District. Her classroom environment is a collaborative, safe and engaging learning space where students are gently pushed outside of their comfort zones as they work to discover their inner awesomeness. Sadie wanted to implement meditation into her daily curriculum and was asking me for advice.
I was so excited, a REAL teacher seeking out exactly what Karah and I had been discussing. This was the PERFECT opportunity for the three of us to co-create together. It felt like Sadie had heard our call to the universe. I have a feeling that there are other teachers out there who would like to implement the same thing, so I documented Sadie and myself during our first discussion about how and why she wants to weave meditation into her curriculum. You can listen to our conversation on My Virtual Campfire
The following information is everything that Karah Pino accumulated to give Sadie a good background on meditation. Karah has practiced and taught Qi Gong and meditation to adults and children since 2002. This is a wealth of information and I wanted to share it in full:
"My number one recommendation is still the 20 minute Observation of the Breath as a starting point because 20 minutes is the amount of time that has been studied and shown to decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels for up to 12 hours. Even if it is done once a week, like on a Monday morning to transition to the school week, the experience creates a body memory that can be accessed more quickly using 2 minute meditation techniques. The recent publication "Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art" has a lot of information and research on the proper way to breathe and why it is so important.
"The 2 minute breathing techniques are based on the average length of a breath. On average, we breathe 5 times per minute. In 10 breaths (2 minutes) we have the opportunity to quiet the production of cortisol and diffuse the biochemical markers of emotions. (Neuroscientist Candace Pert did extensive research into the biochemistry of emotions and published a book called "Molecules of Emotion")
Here is Karah's list of quick breathing techniques that act like a shortcut to stillness:
"Another fun one that is great for kids is a Humming technique. Everyone Hums at their own tone and pace for 5 minutes with their eyes closed. Then stop at the sound of a bell and sit in stillness for 10 minutes. The effects are truly profound.
"Some others a teacher might like to try: The Heart Coherence is based on research done by the HeartMath Institute. Turtle Breathing is an excellent technique for social studies to build compassion and peace when reckoning with the difficulties of the suffering world.
Karah's Visualization Techniques:
Karah's Sound Techniques:
Karah's Moving Meditation:
After Sadie did some initial research, she found these teacher-specific tools that could help other teachers. Here is what Sadie found:
"The meditation journal has a full year's worth of ideas on how to get the kids thinking positively and encourages them to be mindful of themselves and others. A lot of the ideas repeat (which I think is great!), but the tasks are different. The activities I plan to use these piece-meal and have the kids glue or tape into their journals during the day or as homework come from here.
"I think the breathing cards will be so helpful as a new teacher beginning this in the classroom. I sent them to the UPS store and got them printed in color on a full-size card stock then put them in a binder so I can have it at my side as I lead the kids through the exercises. I appreciate that some of them will tell you when the exercises would best be used such as 'use this to free the mind of agitation, frustration and anxiety'. This will be super helpful when having to jump right into a lesson based off of the kids' emotion assessments that I likely won't have until just a few minutes before we are to begin the day. I also appreciate that they are very descriptive and walk the kids through how to do the breathing by acting out everyday activities they would be familiar with such as 'Pretend your belly is a BIG balloon' and 'exhale forcefully like you are trying to blow out all your birthday candles'.
"Everything else I am kind of developing as I go! The tool-kits I am making for the kids will be filled with manipulatives that are referenced in these cards so the kids will have something to see and hold as well as imagine. As I said, I will send a picture of this all when they are complete!
I truly hope this information and this co-creation can help other teachers in their classrooms. I welcome anyone to add more resources in the comments as you find them! I'll add to this post if Sadie has updates to her student's progress this fall, 2021.