Giving Thanks: A Blessing from the Heart ….

Sandy with hands over heart

I just returned from the Yoga in the Schools Symposium at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.   Some amazing people from around the country and Canada met to discuss how we might expand the yoga in the schools movement.  We heard from researchers, school superintendents, principals, classroom teachers, yoga teachers, ocupatinal therapists, and program directors all interested in helping our school communities become places of peace and compassion where everyone is able to live their lives from a place of  greater at-easeness, so that there are  better interactions and improved performance by all.

I had the priviledge of spending the two day symposium with a wonderful break-out group.  It was a mixed group:  a school princiapal, two P.E. teachers who teach yoga at the high school level, two former elementary school teachers who teach yoga to children, and an Associate Professfor of Education who supports mindfulness and yoga in the shcools.  Our conversations were healthy, open, and thoughtful.  One memeber of our group who studied the Native American culture for fifteen years, noticed that the their practice of being thankful was missing from our discussion.  This was a thought provoking observation for me as I knew this to be true having had some expereince with the Native American culture myself.  Giving thanks for the opportunity to assist our youth in learning techniques to quiet their bodies, minds, and emotions is important, not everyone is called to do this important work.  The question arose, “How can we extend ‘giving thanks’ into the lives of our students/children?  How can we include being grateful in our classrooms, homes, and lives?”  Here are my thoughts . . . .

In the classroom:  At morning meeting or circle time, let each child name something she/he is thankful for.  You might list their ideas on a ‘Thankful Chart,’ or since spring is here, have each child write her/his thankful word on a green, construction paper leaf to be taped to a branch of  ‘Our Thankful Tree.’  For older students, have them begin class with a deep breath into their heart center, bring to mind something that they are grateful for, exhale it out into the world, and sit quietly for a few moments before beginning class.  Perhaps start class after striking a chime or the ting shas.  How might the class proceed differntly if it is started in that way?  (The chapter on Centering in my book Creating the Peaceable Classroom offers other ideas.)

At home:  At the dinner table, have each family member answer the question, “What are you thankful for today?”   A child’s answers might at first be more materialistic, but by hearing their parents’ less materialistic answers, their answers may change over time.  You may also guide your children to find deeper things to be thankful for and assit them in saying why. i.e. “I’m thankful that Joey is my friend.  He helped me get up when I fell at recess.”  “I’m thankful that the sun was shining today so I could play outside.”

In life:  You might pause a moment before you get out of bed each morning and be thankful for awakening to a new day.  Pause at work and be thankful for what you have accomnplished to that point.  Go for a walk and take in the beauty of the natural world around you.  Be grateful for being alive yet another moment.

I intend to bring this practice more fully into my life and with those in my care.  Giving thanks is a blessing from the heart.

What are you thankful for today? I am thankful for you and all you bring to the world,


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