By Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director
2015. What will it bring? Where are we headed? In the U.S. the stock market is up, the political landscape is shifting, gas prices are lower, and America seems to be doing relatively well, at least in comparison to the rest of the world. So perhaps it will be a good year for education in the U.S.
How is 2015 looking for your school, your teachers, your students, your community?
What are your hopes and dreams for 2015? In my yogic tradition, 2015 will be a year where energy shifts, where “pranic energy” — the life force of the universe — assumes renewed importance. As many of you know, one of the secrets of yoga is the coordination of breath with movement. “Inhale and hold, exhale and stretch . . . extend your breath.” Breathe deeply (click for reference for the above photo and a more technical explanation by yoga teacher Colin Schour). In some yogic traditions one’s life is measured in breaths; by extending the breath, or the quality of breath, yogis believe one’s quality of life is enhanced. In my yogic tradition we discuss breathing deeply to send energy to internal organs for cleansing and relaxing: “Inhale, circulate the energy, and exhale, relax.”
Breath, such a simple life force. Yet many of us are shallow breathers. Sometimes our breath is shallow because that is all we have experienced, all we know. Sometimes our breath is shallow because of fear — in states of fear we sometimes experience rapid, shallow breathing. With anxiety, we may even experience shortness of breath.
For CEI, our 21st Century approach to education and learning encourages educators to incorporate neuroscience, heart centered education, and STEM into schools. In 2013, when I attended a workshop on the Science of Compassion, I met several researchers who are proponents of “mindfulness” – a practice that shares much with yoga. As David Rock, Executive Director of the Neurol Leadership Institute, suggests, mindful meditation and breathing impact the brain. According to Dr. Rock, “if your narrative circuitry is going crazy worrying about an upcoming stressful event, it helps to take a deep breath and focus on the present moment. All your senses “come alive” at that moment.”
So in 2015, a year deemed to be, in yogic terms, a year of breath, I urge you to consider your hopes and dreams, the hopes and dreams of your community, and to breathe, breathe deeply and breathe life into your hopes, your dreams. In so doing, you might even incorporate breathwork into your curriculum and perhaps simultaneously reduce stress and accelerate learning.
Rock. D. (2009). Your brain at work. New York:Harper Collins. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/200910/the-neuroscience-mindfulness
If you are interested in incorporating breathwork into your curriculum and school, contact CEI.