This past summer, while teaching summer school, I decided to truly teach mindfulness to a group of fifteen-year-olds. Writing a book for high school teachers on how to develop a practice in any class means that I had to walk the walk, or at least, silence the room. Well, I did it. Perhaps these students were more obedient, but whatever the reason – they meditated. They closed their eyes, straightened their backs and let themselves be for a while.
The meditation was always coupled with a little topic of the day – just a bit of my gospel on various topics which I’m calling: essential life lessons or !mperative life lessons, as it were.
On one particular morning I dove into the topics of self-judgment, blame, anger and how to face our most difficult emotions as they arise. Here’s what I said and I welcome you to share it with your classes…or you can always hire me for a mindfulness series and I’ll share it! In any case, here goes:
Imagine if you didn’t judge yourself. Truly. Imagine looking at yourself right now, as if you were standing there, looking back – and just loving you, as a person, exactly as you are right now. Feel the warmth of being basked in such love. Really.
Those who tend to blame others and are always finding fault in others are usually judging themselves even more harshly. They can’t deal with the pain they are inflicting on themselves so they just lash out and blame, blame, blame. But, the truth is that they probably have some unresolved issues and pain, maybe even trauma. When we don’t handle the emotions that surface when we go through a tough time they fester in us and cause pockets of pain, pain that we don’t wish to look at because we are afraid of the emotions that we may wind up feeling. It all feels like too much; so daunting. So, we just harden ourselves to others a bit and blame people when things don’t go right.
It takes great courage to feel your emotions, to feel sadness when you do and to let it out in tears. Boys too. It takes great courage because a lot of times you’ve never felt these kinds of feelings and so you don’t know what’s on the other side of them. Will you be forever changed? Or will you not be able to come back from the pain? So, you may push it away.
So, just know that feeling pain is being alive and that every one of our painful times passes. They really do. For those of you who know the bible then the words – this too shall pass will resonate with you. And with everyone else…this too shall pass. And, guaranteed, when you process your emotions and when you stop judging yourself for having them, or for experiencing what you are going through in your life, then you can feel free! Free to love yourself and free to connect with others with less fear. And really, it’s the connection to self and to others which brings us the greatest joy.
So, we’ll go into our meditation with some courage and some softness. We won’t judge ourselves. Not for the next 5 minutes.
Some student feedback
I enjoy meditating and really think it helps me improve in life. Learning to accept myself for who I am, and being more chill instead of always having anger issues.
It is hard for me not to get distracted easily, but I noticed that every time we meditated those thoughts would sometimes not evern come into my head. Also, my cousins noticed that I don’t swear and get mad easily anymore. I learned some really good and important life lessons that I will definitely use and never forget.
Meditating has helped me a lot – how to be more focused and patient.
Mindfulness has helped me and taught me how to be peaceful. I have understood how it works and how it can help me.