March’s PBIS focus at our school is Mindfulness. So fifth graders, of course, need to know why we are doing this mindfulness stuff anyway…
Luckily, I had watched this Ted Talk on Mindfulness and one part (about the emotional vs. the problem solving parts of your brain) came back to me. (I’m referring to about 12:47 – 13:56.)
“Why are we doing this stuff anyway?” one of my fifth graders asked.
“Well, have you ever been really upset or angry and you do something …” A few nods. A few shrugs. “And then later, when you’re calmer, wonder why you would ever do that?” I asked them.
Heads nodded vigorously. Eyes grew. Looks were exchanged. I continued to explain what the woman in the Ted Talk had explained, using the hand motions. The emotional part of the brain prevents the logical/problem solving part from working properly, but mindfulness helps switch those roles. It helps quiet the emotions so that logic can stay in control.
They were silent, which very rarely happens. And their eyes, their glances to friends told me they knew exactly what it was like to loose logic to emotions – to look back and wonder, “What was I thinking?!? Why would I do that?!?” And that they had no idea there was a reason this happened. That it happened to other people, too.
It is easy to forget that these kids are entering foreign territory. They don’t know that everything they are feeling and experiencing happens to everyone. They don’t know that they are not as alone and different as they feel at times. None of us are.