More mindfulness today! John Grund visited us for the last day of mindfulness training. We had lots of activities today where we learned to attune to each other. We had fun clapping/counting exercises, picked colorful cards, and navigated (with our eyes closed!) through a plush animal obstacle course. We continued talking about helpful acronyms like RAIN: Recognize what is going on; Allow the experience to be there, just as it is; Investigate with kindness; Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience.
John talked about happiness and how gratefulness leads to happiness. He mentioned research that suggests that people’s happiness returns to set points: lottery winners’ happiness peaks and returns to the set point, and paraplegics’ happiness dramatically dips and then returns to the set point. John referred students, teachers, and administrators to Professor Daniel Gilbert who has conducted research and written books about such phenomena. The difference between empathy and compassion was the focus of one of John’s discussions, and he reminded us that people can get tired from empathizing but not from compassion. We learned more about self-compassion and that we need to be kind to ourselves and not just others.
We paired up for one activity: the stuffed animal minefield that we had to go through with our eyes covered while our partner’s guided us only with words. We had to create visual images and goals of ourselves: we drew pictures showing our ideal selves as well as our real selves and took note of our strengths and gaps. In the spirit of the new year, we each set a goal. John lead us in a final loving kindness meditation, which seemed like the perfect way to finish our mindfulness month.
After we said our goodbyes to John, we celebrated the holiday season with a fun feast! We were joined by teachers, siblings, parents, all members of the FlexFamily. Happy holidays everyone, and we’ll see you in 2016!
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