Follow me to my new website and my journey from screenplay to screen! AFTERMATH was completed this spring and went through revisions this summer, thanks to the notes from two producers. Gratefully, it has now found representation and soon a home.
Go to my NEW website where I continue my journey toward finding my Path in this life, sharing all the bumps and bruises on the way.
When I started teaching mindfulness based stress reduction with my 3rd graders, I worried there would be push-back from my parents thinking I would be teaching meditation, although the word was not used in the curriculum.
However, within the first week of practice, students would use the word meditation from their own background knowledge of the word.
Students practicing breathing techniques.
Knowing this could be cause for concern, I briefly taught the students the difference between practicing breathing techniques to calm the brain and Meditation. Since then, in the nine years of teaching Mindfulness, I’ve only had one incident where a parent discontinued their child in the activities, due to religious choice.
The program I implemented was called The MindUp Curriculum by the Hawn Foundation. I chose this program, because it is non-secular in its teaching of mindfulness using brain-based research in the 15 activities.
Students were taught in the first three lessons how their body responds to stress and how to regulate the stress through mindful breathing techniques called Core Practice. For the rest of the twelve lessons in the program, the students learned how to be Mindful, practice Empathy, and to self regulate during stressful or excitable situations.
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” ~ Buddha
I had the privilege this year to teach over 175 eighth graders the art of mindfulness once a week for over 10 weeks. It was a profound experience for them and completely eye-opening for me. Although I had taught hundreds of elementary aged children mindfulness, I did not realize how desperate our teenagers were for this practice in their life.
It wasn’t instant buy-in at first.
I recall the first time the students walked into their Science class that Friday to see me sitting at the side of the room. They immediately went into ‘substitute teacher’ mode. I smiled and walked to the front of the room and stood quietly, ignoring their comments and rambunctiousness. I had forewarned their Science teacher, sitting in the back of the room, to let them just be themselves and not correct their behavior. She was visibly nervous.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, … to have the life that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell
I was 10 years old when my family went to 6 Flags Great Adventure. It was my first time on a roller coaster with my twin brother, and we were so excited, though our stomachs were tied in knots! I remember the attendant putting the measly safety bar down onto our laps. I looked at my brother just as the car started to move up the steep climb and scooted over to him. We lurched to the top and paused just long enough to take a breath.
As soon as the car dove over the edge, everyone screamed in typical roller coaster fashion. However, I wasn’t screaming. My body had left the seat and began to go over the front of the car! I grabbed desperately for anything, but the momentum and steep descent kept pulling me out. My brother frantically grabbed my belt and wedged me into the corner of the seat until we hit the bottom of the hill. I was petrified! We got off shaking, telling the attendants that the bar didn’t hold me in. They just looked at us and moved us along. I will never forget that day, so grateful my brother was there.
My body had left the seat and began to go over the front of the car!
My Parents … A Lesson in Understanding
It is interesting to flash back through your life and realize the beginning of a new shift of thought. I was a eight when I saw my parents as fallible for the first time. I was cognizant of it when it occurred, and I withdrew into my own inner space afterwards. They had made an erroneous, prejudice remark about a playmate of mine, and at that moment I realized they were human. Children aren’t born with prejudices, they are taught. I felt it in my ‘gut’ that they were wrong, a strong pang right under my belly button. It was the first time I stood up and told them that their thoughts about my friend were wrong. They changed their stance after my argument, but I’ll never forget looking at them in a different way after that. I realized it was a lesson for me to learn about empowerment, and it has stayed with me for over 38 years. From that point on, I was to see each individual in my life as someone that was to teach me something I needed to learn. But my ‘gut’ was telling me more. Continue reading