May 24, 2013

Students Create Exercise for Meditation in the Classroom

This week I was teaching my culinary students about the elevator pitch in preparation for practicing job interviews. One person asked, "how do you know when a minute has passed?" And another suggested, "let's close our eyes and when we think a minute has passed, let's each raise a hand." I loved the idea, especially since it came from the students.

I waited for the second hand to reach 12 on the classroom clock and they started. What became quite beautiful was watching 15 students sit in complete silence, their faces at peace and bodies unmoving. I was surprised to see them all reach 30 seconds and still they sat with an internal focus. Only at 40 seconds did hands start to go up and a couple of students made it to 60.

As we resumed our discussion, the energy in the room had completely changed. There was a calmness that they conveyed and it was as though the quality of the air had shifted and settled. They were speaking calmly, from their body centers as opposed to the nervous chatter that usually spilled from their mouths.

I realized that they had just meditated. It was profound to witness the dramatic change 60 seconds had on them individually and as a group. As I told them how peaceful they all looked during their self-prescribed exercise, I recognized the impact of meditation in working with students and with teams. Plus, as a facilitator I now understood that I if I could take 60 seconds to meditate before a session, I too could find that grounding. What was most interesting was that this had been their idea, not imposed. They had recognized a need, came up with a solution, and I recognized the opportunity and facilitated the exercise.

How can I bring this to every class? When planning an agenda I do consider the flow of energy in the three and four hour class sessions. Moving from listening to discussing and then implementing, I craft classes that have energy highs and lows. However, I now see opportunity for meditation and perhaps even a few gentle yoga stretches to have a deeper impact on the internal and external environment.