For the last year or so, most of us have had much less ‘to do’, at least, of the fun kind of ‘doing’, but that does not mean our minds and spirits have been dwelling in an oasis of rest and calm. In fact, anxiety seems to be one of the most harmful side effects of the reaction to Covid 19. Thank goodness, we are all slowly getting back to school and work, and the best part of that is access to St. Conleth’s very own guru of Mindfulness and cool: Mr. Julien Porzadny. Here, he reflects on what he and his followers have been up to. It just might keep up us sane till we can hear the dulcet tones and calming words of the man himself!
For the Féilte exhibition of 2020, I was invited by the Teaching Council to create a showcase on “Mindfulness in school”. Andrea Ryan and myself created a little video (and presentation) talking about our experience of bringing mindfulness in our schools. I am very happy to see that, after being added to the time-table five years ago, Mindfulness classes are now an integrated part of St Conleth’s college.
Even though we are physical apart, the online weekly well-being classes are still being held. Every week we meetup to practice, share and reconnect with each other and ourselves. The Junior Cycle students are following the .breath course while the Senior Cycle students the .b course and the 5th forms of the Junior school also got the opportunity to avail of the Paw b course before we moved to the remote teaching. These three courses are from the Mindfulness in Schools Project.
In our last classes before the February mid-break we changed things up a little. Students shared some “nourishing” activities that they were doing during lockdown to lift up their mood. I then gathered them and created a little poster you can all get ideas from if you would like. In our final class we played a little Mindfulness Kahoot. If you are eager to play it, here is the link to it. You can access it until the 28th of March.
Finally, as mentioned in its Framework for teachers’ learning, the Teaching council “recognises the importance of care of self so as to be able to care for others and, in that context, teachers’ well-being is vital if they are to effectively lead learning, and support and facilitate students in this endeavour.” Keeping this in mind, it is now time to move on to bringing mindfulness to the staff of St Conleth’s college.
It is therefore with great pleasure that, following our next mid-term, I will be inviting the staff of St Conleth’s to join a five week online introduction to Mindfulness course. In our next academic year, a more in-depth 8 week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course will also be offered on a voluntary basis. I cannot thank enough Ms Sheppard, our principal, our vice-principal and our guidance councillor for the trust they put in me to lead these two courses.
Sometime people think that Mindfulness is synonymous of relaxation or that it will help us fix all our problems. Mindfulness may or may not help with these. However, what the practice of Mindfulness does is that it allows us to create a space where we can find our own wisdom, where we can trust ourselves a little more, where we can better respond to life challenges. And personally, I really like to sound of it.
Until next time, I shall now leave you with a quote I enjoy from Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Between stimulus and response there is a space; In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.