I’m with a kindergarten class of 25 children. They’re loud, boisterous, having fun playing at activity time. A student teacher is trying to calm them down. Unsuccessfully trying to bring down the level of hilarity, loud voices, and achieve a certain level of calm. Frustrating.
The children are evidently not used to calm and steady – they’re more familiar with loud and louder, one shouting over the other, my needs more important than anyone else’s. And the way to get attention is to shout louder, you get your way through pushing, shoving, loudness, force really.
The level of noise that we’re used to in a big city is way out of bounds. It’s a lot like the chatter in our heads (often negative). The endless chatter that goes on in our minds – over which we seem to have next to no control. The Buddhists have made a religion out of quieting the mind – quieting the endless chatter of random thoughts – very few of them productive.
Thoreau in On Walden Pond talks about the space we require in our day just to be really human and likens it to a page in a notebook that needs that generous margin on one side.
Let’s teach our children peacefulness by allowing them quiet periods in their day – without TV’s or ipads or the roar of machines of all kinds. Quiet time should be built into each activity, just as each page has a generous blank margin, so should every activity have its reflective part. After eating , Deepak Chopra suggests, we should just sit quietly for 3 minutes more for digestion to begin – with even a short rest before resuming activities. After building something, allow time for reflecting on it, observing it, perhaps recording it. Before bed, have some space to reflect on the day, possibly in a journal. And enough sleep that we really need – most of us walk around sleep deprived. No? School-aged children especially need lots of sleep to function properly – pre-schoolers really need 12 hrs. a night, e.g.
Let there be margins in our day!
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