I get a lot of questions in my classroom.
Miss, is this right?
Miss, what page?
Miss, can you check this?
Miss, what do you think?
But the question in my class that has brought me the most refreshment as of late is…
Miss, can we meditate?
Several weeks ago, I faced the big, bad giant Senioritis as he trolled through my student population. Since then, I have been setting space aside on a weekly basis in my class–if not daily–to lead my students in meditation. Sometimes I guide them. Sometimes I use an app. But either way, it is a few minutes that consist of no instruction but great inspiration. I’m okay sacrificing the academic time for the social-emotional support. After all, there is no learning where there is no security, and as my seniors prepare to make the biggest transitions of their lives, anything I can do to foster security will reap benefits tenfold.
Just recently during one of these meditation sessions, I guided my students through setting mantras. These are “I am” statements that embody all they wish to be in their lives: I am light. I am successful. I am strong. I am able. I am loyal. I am a leader. I am happy. I am beautiful. I am love. Positive thoughts popcorned in my class, making it feel more like a Friday night carnival than a Senioritis-stricken classroom. Though I know this is nothing that will be tested on the AP Lit exam, I am confident and intentional that these positive centering thoughts can help them with all the other non-academic tests life throws their way. All their lives, they have been fed the message that they are not good enough: They are poor. They are minorities. They are undocumented. They are from the hood. They are insignificant. They are underestimated. They are unsatisfactory. They are violent.
But I believe, through this mantra activity, that I can give them a glimpse into the power of language. That the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we believe, are the stories that will come true. And so by stepping on the meditative dance floor with their breath, with their heartbeat, with their affirming mantras, they are creating a future that is full of self-confidence, positive energy, courage, and hope. They are rewriting their stories.
After they left class, I slowly strung and untangled and tangled and knotted their mantras into a prayer flag that now hangs along our windows. As the sun catches them in the morning, I feel honored to be a part of this new story they are writing.