Throughout the day any number of thoughts and feelings pass through our minds. Some leave as quickly as they enter but others stick with us, clouding our minds and pulling us away from where we are and what we’re doing. It’s a challenge at any age to focus on the task at hand and to give yourself fully to the present moment. I for one wish I had had more guidance with this at an earlier age!
That’s why I was so excited when last Thursday Jesse Holstein visited the Daily Orchestra Program and offered to lead a guided mindfulness activity at the start of the class. I admit I was nervous. Would the kids be able to sit still for 5 minutes? Would they start goofing off in the face of something new and unfamiliar? Nevertheless, I knew we had to start somewhere, and I trusted Jesse had something good up his sleeve.
As the kids entered the room I could see they were immediately curious and engaged. They wanted to know what Jesse would be doing with the mysterious array of materials he had laid out on the floor - a glass jar of water, some bags of colored sand, and a bell. He definitely had their attention! Once everyone gathered around close (making extra sure they could see everything that was going on), Jesse used the glass jar of water to simulate the mind. We talked about the different thoughts or events that might upset our minds during the day. Perhaps we left our homework at home by accident, or at lunch someone ate our very last chicken nugget! With each upsetting experience, a student poured a different color of sand into the water and stirred. Gradually the water jar became one dark, cloudy mess! At the ringing of a bell we were instructed to wait in silence, to focus only on our breathing and watch the water.
When the bell struck there was a level of silence and concentration I had never witnessed before from our orchestra. It was truly an exciting moment! For the most part the students breathed calmly while the water slowed and sand settled in the bottom of the jar. Of course, once the sand had settled that wasn’t enough! They demanded to do the experiment again, and kindly Jesse obliged.
I am so happy that Jesse was able to visit us and introduce our students to the concept and practice of mindfulness. We hope he visits us again soon!