I will shortly be closing this site. I want to thank you all for your involvement as readers, commenters, emailers and supporters as I have sought to find my way through to a kind of mindfulness I can live with, in the world.
One of you said in any email the other day that in a sense I am speaking of a different ‘strand’ in mindfulness. I think this was an extremely insightful comment.
I started this blog 2.5 years ago and what a journey its been!
I am reminded of a quote of Rudolf Steiner’s that I love:
I want to show the biography of a soul that fights its way to freedom….. in my own entirely individual way. I scaled many cliffs and battled in my own unique manner through many thickets.
He says that Anthroposophy interests him only as experience of the individual person. I am a bit like that with mindfulness.
I am absolutely fascinated with what is coming out of my research, by asking the simple question ‘what happens when you close your eyes for a mindfulness mediation’. I am grateful to meditation teacher and researcher Lorin Roche for this question which he gave in a personal communication. It just seems to cut right through to the essence of the experience.
I began my research having ‘bracketed’ as they say is necessary in phenomenological research, my own views and perspectives as much as possible. I think conducting research in a foreign country helps with this actually as its a bit like being an anthropologist, hopefully not on Mars as in Oliver Sacks book of the same name! I was genuinely surprised with what came from the students and teachers I have met and then conducted email interviews with. Based on my findings I have gone to the literature to help me understand what they told me about their experience. It has been challenging and yet liberating journey through some fascinating literature from psychiatry, psychology, medicine, sociology, philosophy , Buddhism, spirituality, consciousness studies and religion as I have sought to understand the relationship between mindfulness meditation and trauma. There is a deep connection in my view and its something I am now focusing on for my research and in my post graduate teaching.
I feel I have come to something and no longer need this blog. The blog has been just wonderful, such a freeing way to explore ideas and get feedback, something different to a journal and different also from academic writing or from teaching and supervision.
I feel I have come back to where I began as in the T S Eliot poem and there is a very new stability within -not so much around the mindfulness itself which was there quite a lot of the time anyway until a recent disruption, painful and annoying but always heralding growth and development!
Its more about now knowing where I sit, my path and seeing, I really am a slow learner, that it comes back to my original work as regarding making suble changes to curriculum and pedagogy to accommodate learners of any age with trauma related vulnerabilities… and supporting their teachers.
Hence my newly developing work in ‘trauma sensitive mindfulness’. I will shortly be submitting a paper on this and this work in general will be available on my new trauma sensitive mindfulness website when I get some time to work on it.
I will keep the creating calmer classrooms blog going intermittently as it is a good support from my students and as they go out into the world of teaching.
This blog will be closed in the next week or two though as it has served its purpose- and amply so.
I wish you well in all your work and I perhaps will be less of a thorn in the side of some people as I ‘burrowed’ around trying to understand why there were aspects of the mindfulness work that concerned me, I now understand what that is all about and how I can creatively provide input into addressing the gaps so as to help ensure mindfulness is safe for our students and supported for our teachers.
Mindfulness is here to stay and how wonderful is that. Its not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater but doing some tinkering around the edges as we would do for students in any case hopefully – if they have mental health, emotional, learning issues that interfere with their capacity to access and engage meaningfully and safely with people activities in learning environments.
I can see that there are many safeguards alreadyembedded in many programs and that when a teacher is deeply experienced and attuned many adaptions are made but they are not yet drawn out enough, at the very least its not yet demonstrated to my satisfaction that mindfulness needs to be invitational, grounded, supported, and that some activities may not be developmentally appropriate for all students, particularly those who have experienced trauma, and that more supports are needed for students and teachers.
As someone the other day said ‘I never realised what I was doing when I asked the students to close their eyes’ to meditate. I didn’t even think that that could leave some children feeling extremely vulnerable if they have been sexually abused for example.’
There’s lots of work ahead but its all good!
Thank you all and I have learnt so much from so many over you over these months!