The Conscious Classroom

Gratitude: Building Community in the Classroom

November 26, 2020 Episode 25
The Conscious Classroom
Gratitude: Building Community in the Classroom
Show Notes Transcript

Thanksgiving is a time for conscious appreciation, recognizing the gifts in our lives, even during hard times like these days during the pandemic. How to we build gratitude and what is the relationship between gratitude, awareness, and ease? 

In this episode, Amy Edelstein will share some insights about the deeper dimensions of gratitude, how our culture and self-sense can serve to obstruct our appreciation for connectedness, and how, once we begin to build our muscles of thanks it makes us extraordinarily happy. 

As always, mindfulness exercises to build conscious classrooms are included.

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Welcome to the conscious classroom podcast, where we're exploring tools and perspectives that support educators and anyone who works with teens to create more conscious, supportive, and enriching learning environments. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein, and I'll be sharing transformative insights and easy-to-implement classroom supports.

That is all drawn from mindful awareness and systems thinking the themes we'll discuss are designed to improve your joy and fulfilment in your work and increase your impact on the world we share. Let's get on with this next episode.

Hello and

Welcome to the conscious classroom. My name is Amy Tel. During this season of thankfulness and gratitude, we're gonna talk about what it means to practice gratitude because gratefulness is something that we experience and it can arise. Unbidden you can wake up one morning with your heart, just overflowing with appreciation.

you can look around the same house or apartment that you've been living in with all the things that you wanna change or clean or organize or simplify and experience a sense of overwhelming appreciation for how that apartment or house has held you nurtured, taken you from one point in your life to another.

and even if it's been a difficult time,

there are those difficult times, teach us and allow us to learn and develop, and we can feel appreciation for that opportunity to grow and deepen and transform. When we understand gratitude as something we cultivate, we can share that with our students. In creative and innovative ways.

Oftentimes we express appreciation for very prescribed moments. Thank you for the gift. Thank you for holding the door for me. Thank you for turning your homework in on time. Thank you for coming to class. Thank you for being prepared. Thank you for presenting

in this episode of the conscious classroom. I want to think more deeply about what gratitude is that we're trying to cultivate, cuz we're trying to cultivate in our students something and in ourselves, something that's more than just a reflex, a reflex, something more than just an, a, automatic action or perfunctory.

We're teaching ourselves and opening ourselves up to be able to experience that flow of wonder and support and curiosity. And thanks. It will it won't necessarily happen automatically. The reason why it won't happen automatically is two.  firstly, because we live in a culture that is built on the acquisition, attaining, evolving, reaching, acquiring, achieving maximum potential, and peak performance.

All of those things push us to Excel and there's very positive momentum. We were able, to surpass. Our limits, we're able to reach beyond ourselves the second reason. But the downside of that is that it teaches us to always be striving for more always to be reaching beyond really looking for what's next.

And gratitude comes from that sense of profound appreciation for what. For the fabric of being for the stillness beneath all of creation for the shoulders that lifted us. So we could peer into the future and

we express gratitude for what has brought us to this point in our lives. And what's enabled us to be here today. For what we've experienced, what we've been given, and how we've been supported. So when we're always reaching and looking into the future, or to, grab that brass ring, that golden ring on the Merry go round, we overlook

so many opportunities to experience and express gratitude.  so that's one of the reasons why we don't often feel it in our culture. And the second reason is that we, as human beings are trained to have a very strong self-sense and that very strong self-sense is part of what makes human beings so sophisticated.

and so extraordinary.

It also is part of what, blindfolds us or blinkers us. So we don't see the wondrous, interconnected nature of everything. And if we can't see the wondrous interconnected nature of everything, then we can't truly experience that kind of gratitude. For the unbelievably intricate flow of events and occurrences and, and substances that enabled us to be alive on the planet today.

The miraculous nature of conception and birth, the miraculous nature of the way, the human body, synthesizes oxygen and nutrients, and the miraculous nature of how the body moves. And develops the miraculous nature of consciousness in the brain.

So when we're trained to focus on our self-sense, we don't appreciate as deeply the incredible complexity and flow of so many, many dimensions of life that enabled us to be. And that's why I say that gratitude is a practice. It's a practice where we are training ourselves to look around. We're training ourselves, to see with new eyes, we're training ourselves to appreciate what's come before.

And this is the attitude that we wanna bring to our students when we're encouraging them to express gratitude and to notice kindness. To be thankful. It, it, we want that thankfulness in them to arise out of this sense of discovery and joy. That aha moment of appreciating something, of seeing connections, seeing the support that we've gotten, seeing the help that we've gotten that was hidden.

and when our students are, are experiencing gratitude out of that aha moment in response to the wonders of the way the world works, the way life works, the way we're endlessly supported to do everything that we do, whether it's from the farmers who, till the soil who, make our food or the factory workers who loaded on a truck or.

Then he, the heating supply, people who make our homes warm, whatever it is so many interconnected things.

So when students an app can, can experience thankfulness and gratitude as part of that curiosity and discovery, it generates momentum, not a should or a lack.  but a sense of abundance and wonder

I'm sure if you're like me, you remember playing those games, having those colouring books, those highlights, when we were young, where there would be hidden shapes within a line drawing, how many animals can you find in the line drawing? How many clowns face. How many fruits or vegetables at first, seemed so hard to do.

Maybe, you can see one or two, but the more you relaxed your gaze and just let yourself look and become absorbed in those lines, the hidden shapes would pop out one after another, after another, after.

that's what I mean by practising gratitude, because when we practice loosening our gaze, but staying focused, we see so many hidden hands that have brought us to where we are training

your students to relate to gratitude, like those hidden shapes in a drawing. Like those scavenger hunts, looking for clues, softening their gaze, learning how to appreciate learning, how to see what fills them

with ease, love, joy support, and friendship. Happiness is the way that you'll develop your C. To one of that, that focuses on comradery on shared experience on paying it forward, passing it on, igniting others with the torch of generosity.

When you're training your

students in this way, gratitude journals are valuable exercises. Have them record one kind of action that they noticed every day that was done for them. One thing they did for others. Have them notice three things every day that make them feel happy they like one food they enjoy tasting or in this holiday season, what their favourite flavours are, and what their favourite food of this time is.

Take a moment right now, wherever you're.  and just think about a colour that's making you happy today. It may or may not be your favourite colour, or just take a moment to think about a colour that's making you happy. And when you saw it last, maybe you're looking you're. Maybe your eyes are resting on something right now.

That's a beautiful colour. That's just filling you with this. And if you put your attention on that happiness, as you gaze at that colour, notice what happens. Let yourself appreciate, let yourself feel gratitude and joy and let your gaze kind of wander around the room or outside wherever you're listening to this and notice shades of that colour in another object.

notice how now that you've paid attention to that one colour, that's making you happy today. And as you see it in other places, it's also reminding you of that initial spark, and it's also making you happy and the world, the environment, your specific environment right around you is starting to feel more welcoming than strange, starting to feel like it's more there to delight you.

Then to challenge you or offend you or be B with you.

This is a great exercise to do in the classroom.

Kids start getting very animated and excited we're

training ourselves and our students. To feel a sense of appreciation for things that are in our immediate world,

the more we appreciate and the less we complain, the more supported we'll feel. These are

hard times. We are in the middle of a pandemic.  that is going through a very difficult stage. It's hard to stay on alert for this many months. It's hard to be that caring for this many months. It's hard to keep our inspiration up for this many months. Many students, the students I work with, you know, had a big disappointment a couple of weeks.

as they were hoping to go back to learning in person. So they could be with their friends and be with their teachers. And in person, learning has been postponed indefinitely. It was a blow for the teachers. Many of them said to me, that many the ones that I work with said it was a novelty and I was able to be kind.

Hang in there and dig deep. And it was challenging and I was working, you know, triple time, but I did it, but I don't know how I can keep doing this for another few months. I'm losing my spark. And if I'm losing my spark, my students are too. And the students said the same thing and said, you know, I just wanna be with my friends.

I'm bored. I'm tired.  and we're seeing in the statistics, the absentee statistics around the country, an alarming, loss of attendance. And it's not just boredom or, you know, it's, it's hard, it's hard for transient students. It's hard for students who have had to quarantine from family members, to keep coming to school.

and once they fall behind, it's hard for them to push their way through the resistance and inertia and fear and self-consciousness. Back in during times like this cultivating, authentic gratitude, authentic love of life and authentic appreciation for things, even in the midst. Of challenge is gonna support your students to develop all-important resilience and resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back from suffering.

Whether we see other people suffering or whether we experience it ourselves, it doesn't ENUR us to suffer. It doesn't make us not feel suffering. Those individuals who develop.  more compassion and gratitude, feel love and affection and pain for others, but they bounce back. They have that resilience.

They have that zest for life that enables them that spirit to rise again, cultivating gratitude during times like this is not a luxury.  for us to help ourselves through this time and help our students through this time, this kind of inner strength cultivation is a necessity.

Here are a few prompts that you can use with your students to help them cultivate appreciation and awareness and attentiveness can use the 5 cents. You can use them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, each day in an advisory, a different sense store to Monday. You can start with sounds. What sounds do you appreciate?

What sounds are you giving you joy? What sounds are you grateful for? Can you hear the rustling of leaves in the wind to hear the sparrows chirping in the morning? Do you hear the squirrels scrambling and chasing each other and even falling or jumping out of the trees?

smells. What's your favourite smell? What's your favourite shampoo smell? Like? What does pizza smell? Like? What do fresh baked cookies smell? Like? What smells do you appreciate? Are you grateful for that? Make you.

Go through tastes, textures, colours, and shapes

each day. Choose a different one. Think of your prompts, think of your senses. And what gives you that feeling of thankfulness and gratitude? What do you enjoy, what brings a smile to you. And then bring those to your students. Give them a little window into you into what you love.

Then you'll start to develop this closeness, this intimacy as the, as a classroom that comes from awareness, cuz when we're attentive and aware and present. And opening ourselves, our doors of curiosity, we create an environment where boundaries dissolve, frictions dissolve. We create that experience of support of a conscious classroom.

And now too.  let's do a short gratitude meditation.

This is one that you can share with your students, come into a focused and relaxed posture with your spine.

Your head floating at the top of your neck and relax consciously, relax your hands. Let your wrists and your fingers be soft. Maybe one hand is nestled in the other. Maybe they're resting on your thighs. Let them come to still.

Rest your attention on your next inhalation and exhalation, gently watching the air going in and the air going out.

and now allow yourself to focus on that sense of appreciation, thankfulness, and gratitude.

I am grateful for the experiences that make me calm and happy.

Let your attention rest there. Allow yourself to repeat to yourself that phrase. I'm grateful for the experiences that make me calm and happy.

I'm grateful for the help that I've received throughout my life.

Bring to mind a moment

of the help of teaching. Of learning.

I'm grateful for the help that I've received in my life.

I'm grateful for the food. I love that makes me strong.

I'm grateful for the foods that I love that make me strong and that make me healthy.

I'm grateful for my friends and family. Who've been there with a kind?

I am grateful for the changing clouds, the changing seasons

and the changing from day to night and night to.

I'm grateful to be able to grow my own

sense of appreciation and kindness. And.

I'm grateful for this

time to be able to feel my gratitude.

and for the good feeling that that brings to my mind and in my body

and in this last moment, bring anything else to mind that you're feeling particular. Appreciation for right now.

And we can close the meditation when you hear the be, I wish

you well, Enjoy this holiday. And I will talk with you again soon. Thank you for listening to the conscious classroom. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein. Please check out the show notes on inner strength, and for links and more information. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend and pass the love on see you next time.