Stories from the Field, Part III: Heartfulness? The Cheesiest.


Stories from the Field are small moments about how mindfulness is impacting the students I am working with, in hopes of capturing what it means to learn and use mindfulness. This story comes from a large high school resource room in Portland, Maine:

Today was our first heartfulness activity. After a quick check in and settling with the bell, we talked about how happiness research suggests (a) happiness is contagious and (b) there are things we can do to make ourselves happier. Before we began our practice, I front loaded  that it might feel awkward or cheesy, but to just try it out and see how it felt. I invited them to imagine one person they cared about to send kind wishes:

I wish for you to be happy...I wish for you to be healthy...I wish for you to be peaceful...

I then invited them to personalize and wish any thoughts they had that might be specific to that person. Finally, they let go of the image and opened their eyes with the bell. Students shared their experiences:

 "I thought of my grandma..."

 "It made me smile..."      

"It made my heart ache..."    

"I thought of my niece..."     

"It made me feel relaxed..."

"To be honest, the phrases were too cheesy and I couldn't really get into it..."

"Yeah, it felt hard to think about imagining myself saying those things to someone..."

I thanked the students for sharing and admitted that the cheese factor is particularly high with the heartfulness activities. We can modify the language if it feels more true to us, but it's interesting that we are so uncomfortable sharing kind wishes. It is interesting that it is so unnatural. 

Part of my job as a Mindfulness Educator is to norm all possible responses students might have to a given activity. I cannot tell them how it will impact them or even how it should. I can speak from my own experience, from the research, and then create a space for them to have whatever experience they are going to have. It is truly all welcome. 

But really, who doesn't love a little extra cheese?