Expedition #3- Yoga, Mindfulness & Pilates Cohort

Words & Photos from Claire P.

On our January 15 expedition, the Yoga and Mindfulness cohort had a jam-packed day, with an emphasis on mindfulness. We started off with a session from Stef Curran, who taught us about how simple mindfulness can be, eating mindfully, focusing on sounds, how to turn our minds off, and certainly made us all very calm and relaxed. She gave an engaging presentation, and we all learned a lot from her. I enjoyed learning simple meditation skills, and her background in meditation and mindfulness. She told us very sweet stories of her daughter and how she incorporates meditation into her daughter’s life.

Our second speaker was a ‘Transcendental Meditation’ expert, Joe Truscott. The google definition is: “a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization by meditation, repetition of a mantra, and other yogic practices, promulgated by an international organization founded by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi”. From what we learned, it’s a more scientific and psychological, deeper meditation style. It takes a lot of time and training to perfect it, but there are guaranteed to be many benefits as soon as you start. The eight main benefits are: reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep, greater sense of clarity and productivity, lower blood pressure, greater sense of calmness throughout the day, reduced cortisol, lower risk of heart attack or stroke, improved brain function and memory. One question I found myself asking, was what’s the difference between Transcendental Meditation and other, more common forms of meditation? Transcendental Meditation is an easy, natural, effortless meditation technique that doesn't involve thinking or concentrating. Each user is given a mantra as a tool to let the mind settle down naturally and to journey through thought. On the other hand, mindfulness meditation involves training your mind to be present in the moment. It usually involves attention to one's breathing, feelings, and thoughts during meditation. I found it very interesting to see a very different side to meditation than I’ve originally been introduced to.

In the afternoon, we journeyed to the Junior School to teach a group of Grade 4 and Grade 1 students some of the things we had learned in the morning. We had four groups; sound within mindfulness, yoga, meditation readings, and mindful drawing. There were four groups of Junior School students that rotated through each presentation. I presented mindfulness through sound. I started off by passing around four different bells. After, they had to pass them around in a circle again, however this time without making a single sound or moving very much. For such young and fidgety children, this proved to be challenging but they surely gave it their all. After, I told them to close their eyes and breathe, while noticing as many different sounds that they could. They seemed to enjoy comparing the different sounds they noticed. I’d ask them to do the same thing again, but this time listen for a quieter noise. Maybe your heart beat, or a bird outside. They were surprised to realize all the different noises they could hear once they took a pause. To finish the presentation off, I’d ring a singing bowl and ask them to close their eyes and raise their hand when they couldn’t hear it anymore. They were certainly surprised how long they could hear it faintly for. I really enjoyed presenting to the children, I found that through teaching them, I learned more and retained the information much better. They were very sweet and interested in meditation, and knew a lot more prior to us coming than I thought they would! Our third expedition day proved to be a success, and we definitely learned a lot.