When I was at the school the other day, a little boy was crying outside his classroom. His teacher was with him but the boy could not talk he was so distraught. The teacher hugged him tightly, then looked him right in the eyes and said very firmly,
‘Who is in charge of your mind?’
The boy was startled out of his sobs. He didn’t know what to say at first. And then cautiously said,
She nodded. ‘Yes you are.’
Her question had taken him away from what ever had upset him and brought him right into the present moment. She gave him a few seconds to think about this and then asked.
‘What is your mind saying now?’
‘Go back into class.’ he replied.
‘Let’s go’. And she held his hand and they went in together.
It was the first time I had seen this at school and I was very impressed. We experience everything about our life and the world through our minds. To understand from a young age that we are the masters of our mind and therefore our experience of life, is surely the greatest gift that we could give a child.
Imagine children growing up with an inner dialogue that tells them they are perfect exactly as they are, that they are a gift to the world and will make a difference to humanity whatever they chose to do. An inner strength like this would go a long long way to steeling them against the craziness of the media which will relentlessly be trying to convince them they are not good enough for the rest of their lives.
Many schools in the West are starting mindfulness training in which children are given calming and meditative techniques to allow them to focus on the present moment. One training course for 13 and 14 year olds uses the wonderful phrase ‘.b’ meaning ‘stop. breathe’. These mindfulness programmes have been proven to have a significant impact on students ability to sleep well, handle stress, deal with anger and cope with relationship problems.
This clip from Kung Fu Panda is a good way to explain to children what mindfulness is.
My daughter once said to me when I told her she had to go to school, ‘You are not the boss of me.’ I explained that it is my responsibility to get her to school on time. If she grows up knowing that even though I might be the boss of getting ready for school, she is the boss of her own mind, I think I will have done my job.