By Dr. Michele Rivers Murphy, CEI Research Associate and Consultant
Imagine for a Moment
Close your eyes, take a few deep and slow breaths . . . Open your eyes and picture a school full of 400 elementary students who have just arrived to school (one of the busiest times of any school day, along with lunch and dismissal). Some students arrive by bus, others by cars, many by foot and, a few hand in hand with parent. Envision children and teachers moving in many different directions, upstairs, downstairs, left, right and straight ahead, in large groups, small groups, single line formations and a few by themselves. Among the hustle and bustle of the morning school day transition are sixty, 4th grade students along with their teachers, from four different classes entering the gym. . . hold that image. Within five minutes of entry: What do you see? . . . Would do you hear? . . . How are you feeling? Anxious? Over-stimulated? Happy?
Recently, Dr. Chris Mason, Executive Director of CEI, provided a powerful heart beaming demonstration for sixty 4th grade students and teachers at Conte Community School in my hometown of Pittsfield, MA. She entered the gym, greeting students and seating them in rows with room to move between students, and instructed five 4th graders who joined her at the front to help her demonstrate the movements. In short order, Dr. Mason and the five students began leading the group in slow, rhythmic movement exercises.
What I Saw: Sixty elementary children along with their teachers, engage peacefully and calmly while experiencing ‘heart beaming’ practices. At different times, I observed smiles, laughter and intense concentration on faces of students and teachers.
What I Heard: Soft laughter or giggles during range of motion exercises, and a calming and peaceful silence that floated over the room like a soft cloud during the visualization and concentration exercises.
What I Felt: A strong sense of special calm, happiness, love, compassion and respect within this space and time for others and for self, a swelled heart.
Conte Community School in Pittsfield, MA
‘It makes me feel happy.’ (4th Grader at CCS)
Place your hands on your heart, right hand over left, sit up straight, take a few deep yogic breaths, relax, and connect first of all with your own heart. Listen to the beat; feel the beat of your heart. Next, think of a loved one and practice ‘heart beaming’- envisioning healing energy and kind, loving thoughts going from your being, from your heart to the heart of a loved one . . .
Health and well-being practices such as heart beaming- quieting moments of the mind are practical and effective tools that help both students and teachers manage, regulate and reduce stress levels through the day. An integrated approach of instructional preparedness, a mix of academic focus and psychological regulation helps reduce cognitive overload and ultimately, increases the ability to learn, focus and attend.
Check out: Article in the Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, MA: View photos and full article