Students and teachers at Chris Hadfield Public School got a lesson in mindfulness and harnessing their “inner light” this week thanks to reiki master Jen Bishop.
The mindfulness teacher stopped by the Bradford West Gwillimbury school Thursday to speak with students during the day, and then host a workshop for teachers and parents in the evening about the importance of self-awareness in our busy lives.
In an age where we can’t seem to do anything without our smartphones, it is sometimes necessary to take a break and step back into the present moment and reflect on what is happening around us — find your “inner light,” she said.
“I really like kids to realize how important it is to be exactly who they are. Not like their friends, not like who their parents want them to be, but exactly who they are,” Bishop said.
She said the light can sometimes easily be overshadowed in today’s chaotic, busy world of technology, and stressful lifestyles. Being more in tune with our bodies and just being quiet are some of the ways Bishop said we can be more mindful.
“We right now in society, with all our phones and technology, we live from the neck up,” she explained. “Mindfulness is about knowing who you are, and something about who that is.”
In the evening, parents were invited to listen to Bishop speak about what she had taught the students in the day and about how to be more mindful of themselves and of their children.
Principal Robin Dashnay said the idea for the event came from parent council to host these workshops to learn how families, students and individuals can take a moment of calm somewhere in our busy day.
“To teach everyone that it’s good to take a breath, relax, be aware of the moment, how to self-regulate yourself,” he said.
Parent council chair Lynane Newtown said it is hard sometimes for adults and children to disconnect from technology so it is important to bridge the gap between school and home with mindfulness.
“You don’t need to be going at a million miles an hour all the time. Sometimes you need to shut everything down and just take a moment,” she said.
At the beginning of the workshop, Bishop invited the audience to choose a coloured wooden block from her table. There were five different colours to choose from: yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, and red.
“All the rainbow of colours represents a different idea or concept in your body. The more awareness you have of what is going on in your body the better you can figure out and navigate how to improve, how to learn,” she explained.
Bishop is currently in the process of writing a book with her friend about the rainbow of awareness and is hoping to have it published by the end of summer so that teachers may use it as a guide when teaching mindfulness in the classroom.
Bishop said it is sometimes difficult for people, especially children, to articulate what is bothering them or what they need assistance with in terms of emotional and mental stress.
“We kind of resorted to be a thinking population instead of a feeling population, and I’m trying to encourage people to feel more,” she said.
Some of the exercises Bishop encourages teachers to do in class to help with mindfulness are things like guided meditation, journaling or breathing exercises.
Grade 5 teacher Tracy Hicks said she incorporates at least five minutes of mindfulness into her class every day.
“I do mindful reading, mindful meditation and yoga,” she said. “It does help when the kids are really wound up, and they ask for it.”
Bishop included a short guided meditation as part of her presentation where she had the audience close their eyes as she guided them on a horseback riding journey in a field of flowers.
Audience member and mother of five Melissa Wilson admitted to falling asleep during the meditation.
“I’m always on the go and I got a moment and dozed off. Please do come back again, we all need it,” she laughed.