photo: Natalia Sokolovska
Playing catch with a ‘breath ball’ with students at Weston CI, TDSB
Learning about mindfulness in playful way
by Marni Levitt
Its all about fun. Playfulness. Being in the moment and being in our bodies. My years of work as a teacher, and many hours with children with special needs have taught me how important it is to engage in physical activity in order to really learn something new, in a deep and profound way. When I came in for a morning workshop at Weston CI this week, we played with mindfulness, which included counting our thoughts, OM contests, a breath wave, and breathing buddies. The most fun for students was playing catch with an imaginary ‘breath ball’ – you breathe in when you catch it, you breathe out when you throw it. Its important to maintain eye contact with the person you are throwing it to. At the end, we lay down and relaxed, and listened to the sound of my voice and the sound of the drum.
I was so grateful when teachers said the program was very helpful for students, and relaxing for the staff. We all need a little inspiration sometimes. Teaching is such a challenging job. I have so much respect for the people on the front lines, juggling multiple needs and requirements all at once. You need to be an octapus with 8 arms!!! I can tell that these amazing teachers are already doing the important day to day work of mindfulness with their students – being present, listening – meeting students where they really are – not where they would like them to be.
My job as an artist and promoter of wellness is to provide inspiration, motivation and support to continue on the path they are already on. To light a spark. To help spread the fire of wellness. We all really need it.
I also believe in making sure that this spark of wellness grows into a steady, sustainable flame. I know it is possible. Absolutely and completely. I know so many times in education or healthcare, there is talk of ‘not enough money’ and ‘budget cuts’ and ‘cutbacks’ etc…. etc…. I know that arts, wellness and physical education have born the brunt of many cuts in public schools over the past several years. AND – what I also know is that very little money is needed to make a big, sustainable difference! There is energy and talent present in any situation – we just have to figure out a way to re-arrange things so they can be made use of. It is like re-arranging the furniture in a house to create a new atmosphere. When staff and students are excited and passionate about what they are doing, and when they are supported – miracles can happen. I started to see some miracles at this school.
I see what is already happening, and it is amazing.
Let’s keep fanning the flames of sustainable wellness together.
Breathe in – and blow out to feed the fire with oxygen.
We can do it.