Have enough faith in love to believe that a short, heartfelt prayer is just as good as a long one.
This week I was talking to my childhood friend and fellow teacher, Josh Austin, from Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. He was describing to me the success that he has been having with a meditation club that he has formed with students from the high school. In a short period of time his own enthusiasm for meditation has expanded into the lives of his students and has included a meditation summit that was hosted at the high school on Friday.
Talking to Josh got me to thinking about my own experience with meditation and how useful it has been to me and my students. In all of the lunch groups we have in the district, we begin by taking three deep breaths. It is a simple practice. I do this with all age groups, from four to fourteen, and it has become an enjoyable part of the group for everyone involved. I was surprised to find that my students will request the breaths if I forget. The students also readily volunteer to lead the breaths.
I am so grateful for those three simple breaths. There are times when I do four groups in a row and the breaths really help me let go of whatever happened in the previous group, so that I can give my full attention to the group at hand. While we breathe, pausing for a moment, before and in the middle of each breath, it is the silence that I notice the most. I can feel that we are all together in the room and that we are all observing one another without judgment. I think this time to be present with each other helps bring positive outcomes in the lunch groups.
There are many words for taking deep breaths. Some call it meditation, some call it mindfulness, and others just seem to intuitively know that taking a few deep breaths is wise choice when overwhelmed, frustrated, or afraid. By keeping it simple, taking three deep breaths together, we reap the rewards without having to call it anything fancy.
I have found that it is the simple things I do that are the most effective. This is largely due to the fact that I actually do them regularly. Taking three deep breaths is as simple as it comes. It is a great method for getting focused, and relaxed, which can be used in every situation. I use this method in meetings, before talking to my son and before going to bed.
During my weekly broadcast, “Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed,” on Unity Online Radio, we begin the program with three deep breaths. My co-host, Darrell Fusaro, author of “What if Godzilla Just Wanted a Hug?” and I, usually say something funny and uplifting when we breathe. Last week’s episode, “I’m Not From Here” was all about erasing the concept of competition by doing what we love because we love it. We accompanied our three breaths with the slogan, “Competition…Forget about it.” The purpose is to clear our mind of whatever we our thinking about and get focused fully in the moment at hand. Saying something fun brings an added mood boost to the breathing.
Remember, many of my students have been diagnosed with attention and behavioral issues. To see these students embrace and joyfully participate in three silent breaths is amazing. I have one group of students who have enough energy to launch a space shuttle, and still, when it comes time to breathe, they are smiling and breathing, seated quietly. The student who leads the breaths also enjoys the activity. The key is that it is simple and effective. Everyone can do it.
So take some time to take three deep breaths when you are stressed, or when you are getting ready to start something that requires your full attention. You can also do it with your children to start or end the day, or for a quick reprieve. They will love it, I promise. Write to me at FunniestThing@UnityOnlineRadio.org and let me know how it goes!
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, live each week at 3 pm on www.UnityOnlineRadio.org. Visit www.TappingIntoGenius.com for more articles and a free, inspirational parenting download.