Meet Trish Trivinia! She started at UrbanPromise one month ago in our newly minted position, mental health clinician…and there is no doubt I now have a partner in crime. She has many years of experience in therapeutic counseling in a variety of settings, and her passion is sharing her love of mindfulness meditation. Faithful readers of my blog will know that embedding mindful practice at UrbanPromise – as a tool to empower youth to cope with their adversities – is a major initiative of mine. Within one short month, Trish has practiced mindfulness (most commonly a body scan) with youth and staff in most of our departments…including with three wiggly 8th grade boys! And in leadership today I listened as Jodina (our ED) shared a story that demonstrates the way this modality complements the positive teaching approach our staff is using:
Jodina was in the UP Sanctuary when Mr. Robert, our art teacher, marched in with an angry 8th grade class. He announced that there would be no art class for them today as they were being disrespectful. They sat down and Jodina gave them a short talk. Then Mr. Robert asked what helpful things students had done in the face of this challenge. 8 or so students shared the way they tried to be helpful – then one of the boys who has been practicing meditation with Trish asked if they could be silent for awhile. And so they were – for 10 minutes! My scientific mind was all over this – these kids, with their traumatized autonomic nervous systems usually in full rev…sitting in silence for 10 minutes. Jodina even mouthed to Robert at one point, “how much longer?” When they opened their eyes, an amazing thing happened – one young woman raised her hand and said, “I would like to apologize to the class for what I said – it was disrespectful.” And then a young man raised his hand as he, too, owned his responsibility in this situation. The group was affirmed and off they went to their next class.
One of the 8th grade boys has said that he likes mindfulness so much because it is a chance to be quiet and think about what you are feeling. Music to my ears! In this noisy city with constant stimulation, silence is a rarity – and a gift of peace. It gives space to contemplate what is going on in the moment, in your life. Back at the leadership meeting, after hearing this story Bruce Main asked us – what if world leaders worked at developing a personal sense of peace? Imagine what might come of that.