Julie Berentsen who has taken part in Educators retreats in London, France and Thailand features in this BBC News Schools Report. Julie, who’s MA focused on teaching mindfulness to students based Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach shared mindfulness with a group of girls from Connaught School for Girls in Leytonstone, east London. It was part of an experiment where young scientists attempted to measure the impact on participants’ concentration.
Julie told us about the Plum Village practices have impacted her teaching style:
“Plum Village is an integral part of my approach to teaching mindfulness to young people. Primarily by teaching me the importance of self care, deep listening and sangha (community).
The starting point for me to any practise of mindfulness is to deeply listen to the young people I am with and be guided by what is shared within the group.
We follow a similar routine by sitting in a circle, creating a centre piece and following practises such as the pebble mediation and nurturing our connections with each other.
Before and after my time with a group I take a few moments to sit and come back to myself. I find this a small but valuable act to support me to be present and fresh and enjoy each moment as it unfolds.”
The students in the video seem to have enthusiastically taken to mindfulness and the article mentions that the teachers involved are keen to start a club, showing they understand the importance and power of students and teachers practicing together as a community.
Given the scientific focus of their study, the students were looking for immediate measurable outcome. With the pressures of modern school life, it is not surprising they focused on the potential for mindfulness to improve study and help cope with exams. Hopefully if collective mindfulness practice can take root in the school, students and teachers can discover that, though mindfulness can help with these things, it can also offer a deeper and more enriching way of living all aspects of life.
Do you have a story to share about practicing mindfulness at school? We’d love to hear from students, teachers and anyone else working with Plum Village practices. Our stories can help encourage and inspire each other. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.