Today, I met up with a group of teachers who had trained to run Paws .b course, a new mindfulness course for pupils in primary schools. In August this year, we had met in Bangor, Wales for 3 days of training to deliver this programme. Following a pilot programme in April, this was the first time the updated training programme had been delivered.
Paws .b course was developed by mindfulness teachers who also had experience teaching in schools, as part of the Mindfulness in Schools Project, a “non-profit organisation whose aim is to encourage, support and research the teaching of secular mindfulness in schools”. The training involved going through the Paws .b programme session by session, giving us a clear picture of the structure and the thinking behind the course. One thing that I really appreciate is its in-built flexibility: it may be delivered as either 6 one-hour sessions or as 12 half-hour ones.
Of all the mindfulness exercises we learnt my favourite was the “petal practice”. Here, you move the fingers of one hand or both hands in time with the breath. This involves bringing the fingertips of each hand together while breathing in and opening up the palm of the hand, like an opening flower, while breathing out. I found it quickly and easily anchored the attention on the breath and sustained it there. From here, the wandering mind of automatic thinking and reactivity could be gently settled and stilled and a calm peacefulness enabled to emerge.
Over the three days, there were ample opportunities to get to know each other and share our backgrounds into mindfulness. All of us had done an 8-week mindfulness training programme, such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and had an established mindfulness practice; this was the main prerequisite for the training. I also learnt that despite coming from a variety of backgrounds, including schools, clinical, therapeutic and business settings, we also shared a confidence in mindfulness as a way to promoted mental health and well-being and desire to share this with children.
Since the training, many have started running the Paws .b course in schools across the country and beyond. Today was wonderful in terms of being able to catch up in a small group, and share about our experiences of doing so.
For more information on Paws .b by Holistic Education, click here.