I didn’t know quite to expect as I walked in the front doors of Crockett Elementary in South Phoenix, Arizona. What I had heard was this was a low-income school with a high population of refugees and they were all in for mindfulness training for the entire school. As a long-time yoga and mindfulness teacher I’ve taught plenty of adults and since joining Mindfulness First in the spring of 2014 I’ve now got quite a few children under my belt as well. This type of school with this population was, however, unchartered territory and I will admit fear was beginning to rise as it usually does with the unknown. As I was greeted at the front desk by a happy, smiling young woman and one of my favorite quotes, “Be the change you wish to see”, I knew immediately I had nothing to fear and I was amongst like-minded people.
As I sat with the principal and the community liaison the magnitude and the amazing possibilities began to sink in. Those of us at Mindfulness First had been dreaming of creating an entirely mindful school and had been pitching the idea to our community school district. I believe I can speak for us all when I say we didn’t expect our dream to come true quite like this. As we proposed the idea to Sean, the principal, all we kept hearing was yes. We want to train all the students, in all grades in our 8 week curriculum…yes. We want to train all the teachers, admistrators and staff in our 8 week program…yes. We want to have the opportunity to work with the parents…yes. We want to bring mindful movement to your P.E. classes…yes. And finally, we think a mindfulness room where the teachers and students could practice together at their leisure would really support this school…YES! It felt a little like an out of body experience, but at that moment I knew for certain we were in the right place at the right time and the work that we would do at Crockett would be pivotal in the Mindfulness in Education movement.
People may think we are being naive when we say that mindfulness is our answer to change this world we live in, at Mindfulness First we see it first hand and KNOW this is the answer! It is incredibly humbling to share mindfulness with hundreds of children in an assembly and watch as nearly all of them settle into their mindful bodies, close their eyes and find that still, quiet place within. You fully understand the potential of this practice when after only one introductory mindfulness lesson, elementary aged boys with a history of behavioral problems – finding themselves once again in the principals office – ask to practice mindfulness.
Are we so naive to believe that a simple practice as easy as paying attention to your breath will change the world? Maybe…only time will tell…we are excited to find out what the next year holds for us as we uncover all the potential within this one corner of the world. Crockett Elementary has opened their doors and their hearts to Mindfulness First and we are handing our dream over to them. Time will tell.