Welcome to our B-COME blog! This is where I will record the major happenings of each session, provide further reflections or inspirations, and link to materials or readings. Please use the comment feature liberally. Feel free to ask me clarifying questions, request specific materials, or share your thoughts on the content we cover.
At our inaugural session we had a warm and welcoming room full of educators ready to create a community of mindful practitioners at Barrow!
We opened with a guided body scan meditation. Participants were instructed to "check in with" each body part in succession by noticing and perhaps silently naming the sensations that arose. Something interesting that comes up for me sometimes is the ABSENCE of sensation, which can be maddening if I allow myself to spiral into trying to control or explain it! Being fully present with sensations I don't expect, even if the sensation is nothing at all, has been the work of this practice for me. If you're looking for more about the practice of "body scan", this is a great place to start: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/body_scan_meditation.
We did a small group activity with the prompts "When do teachers need to be strong?" and "When do teachers need to be soft?" and then discussed as a full group. One group shared their perspective that strength may be more necessary when a crisis or situation is in progress, while softness may be more necessary in its aftermath. There were some beautiful reflections about how teachers' ability to be soft with their students allows them to connect on a more personal level. Some themes emerged about group size, which had to do with strength in front of groups, and easing into softness when one-on-one. One of the most prominent observations that I heard small groups discussing was "I had that in the other category!" Indeed, I noticed all times of day showing up on both sides of your notecards. Being soft and being strong are skills that serve you well at different times of your day, which is no surprise given your specific responsibilities and personal lives. Mornings, afternoons, evenings, all require your constant attunement and adjustment!
We tried to embody the soft and strong duality with our moving meditation today. With a tall and strong spine, we invited fluidity into the spine, moving it in all three (six!) directions that it is designed for. The flow as presented was:
Inhale cow pose (arching back)
Exhale cat pose (rounding back)
Inhale R. arm overhead for a twist to the right
Exhale R. arm floats down to settle further into the twist
Inhale R. arm overhead, face the center, AND side bend to L.
Exhale back to neutral position.
Repeat on second side.
If you prefer to do the seated version on some days, and the active/yogic/floor version on other days, do so! The floor version was:
inhale R. arm sweeps up
exhale R. arm "threads the needle" (swoops under left arm and onto the floor)
inhale into modified side plank facing the R. side of mat (L. knee on floor, R. arm extended over your ear)
exhale return to neutral
repeat on second side
The invitation for your personal practice this week is to set a timer for 5 minutes and try to get into the rhythm of this fluid spinal movement. Don't get too bogged down in the choreography of it! Move from a place of both strength and softness to invite healthy flexibility into your spine.
Participants were asked to write themselves a motivational message and perhaps "schedule" their five minute daily meditation right then and there on their note card to serve as personal accountability.
We will have a 5-10 minute daily meditation goal throughout the entirety of the program. Some weeks it will be much harder for you to make time than other weeks, but remember that every single day is a chance to start over!
We concluded our session with three bells to signify the transition from our mindfulness community back to the community at large.
Finally, here's a short article about breath to get you started thinking about our next session. Please read it before our next meeting. Apologies for a tiny bit of yoga jargon in the article (pranayama=formal breath practices) but it's a solid overview to WHY breath matters so much and has some interesting extensions about exercise that may be relevant to those of you who work out!