My Mindfulness and Movement Journey at LVA
Written by: Guest teacher, Lindsay Schaefer
Two years back, I was over in the Southside of Bethlehem with my children Penelope and Baxter and taking in a beautiful day as we did much observation in a city park. Southside of Bethlehem I feel so connected to since it reminds me of my days in NYC and working in inner city schools and well, the community in ways feels like a home. We walked the city filled park with murals, basketball courts, pool, and sprinklers and this deep message kept coming to me-
“Be the change you want to see.”
As we continued our stroll and yes, played with some movement by the murals and on the basketball courts I realized the message was so deep and popping into my very Mindful state of being since it was a sign that I was meant to give back with my work. To give back with my work as a Movement Specialist and Mindfulness Coach. I observed that day city kids taking in my interactions with my own kids and wanting at times to follow our lead into movements that they saw us all doing. “Be the change you want to see.”
Fall of 2016 when my daughter Penelope was in 6th grade at LVA is when that sign of giving back became reality. As a movement specialist and mindfulness coach my kids have been around my work from day 1. Since my days of performing as a professional dancer, to teaching, to leading groups of students whether kids or adults through movement or mindfulness my kids have been around it. Movement and Mindfulness is pretty much in their blood and their daily terminology since they are exposed to me in action with my work every day. As I say in the classrooms-
“Every day we Practice, we can become more Mindful.”
So when I heard my 6th grader Penelope ask last year- “Mom, can we start a yoga club at LVA?” I knew it was my time to step in, give with all my heart the passion of Movement and Mindfulness, and to serve in love. Through all my training I have had mentors of mine say to me “Be ready to serve when your tribe comes before you.” LVA truly represented that tribe last year with Ms. Fischer being the leader of the Mindfulness train in welcoming yoga club to LVA and then taking Mindfulness a step further to welcome Mindfulness Techniques into the classrooms and directly into curriculum.
LVA has been a leader in jumping on the Mindfulness train as I like to say since last year. It all started with the LVA terminology of “Let’s do our Mindful Minute.” To then inviting me in to the facility last fall to start Yoga Club and to carrying my Mindfulness Techniques into the Classrooms to be incorporated into curriculum for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Mindfulness is an extremely abstract concept to wrap your hands around and your mind around. I share with all my practicing students and teachers with Mindfulness that daily practice is the key. “Every day we Practice, we can become more Mindful.” As I guide the students through practice with exercises such as: Unity Clasp, Busy Mind Compartment, Belly Breathes, Om with a Vowel I share with them the importance of performing the exercise but also being mindful of their personal space, their community space, and how they feel with every exercise before and after.
Mindfulness is truly a Walk through Life. I say to the students in our practice work lets feel our breath as if it is an orchestra playing to us. Let’s inhale for 1, 2, and 3 and let’s exhale for 1, 2, and 3 to hear and feel only the sound of our breath in the classroom. I help guide students to yes a very uncomfortable stillness at first. But, with my nurturing through elements of eye contact, follow the leader representation, and mantras such as “I am amazing” and “I am awesome” these students and teachers dive in and jump on the Mindfulness train for an incredible practice session.
This school year Principal Ms. Fischer has added in some new Mindfulness components such as bean bag sitting chairs and flexible barrel chairs for the students to practice on. In our Mindfulness practices we have been selecting certain students to test out these components instead of sitting at their desks. It has been wonderful to add in from my tool bag for Mindfulness Meddy Teddy and his posture work involving movement for the students. I present a special movement posture to the students and have Meddy Teddy a soft cute flexible bear demonstrate the same posture. Students and Teachers then follow the lead of myself and Meddy Teddy and sometimes they even get to hold Meddy Teddy in the posture work too.
My journey at LVA with Mindfulness and Movement continues for the 2017 and 2018 school year. I am beyond honored to be at my children’s school and serving the LVA community with my work in Mindfulness and Movement. Yoga Club kicks off on Monday, September 11th and runs every Monday afterschool for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders till November 6th. Mindfulness Techniques in the Classrooms will be throughout fall for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and with a review of visits in the spring time before testing time. As the Mindfulness train and energy grows counselors and staff in the high school at LVA are catching on to the importance of Mindfulness and Movement for Mental Health and Leadership. I was able to offer my work last year to 9th through 12th graders for Mental Health Awareness with various practices and at the top of this year shared practices with the DP 11th and 12th grade students who will be counselors on the 7th grade camping trip. Mindfulness and Movement train is growing like wildfire throughout LVA campus and I can’t wait to share more of our progress over this year and in the future.
Over the next couple of months, I will be continuing to mentor three LVA High School seniors on a documentary about LVA’s journey with Mindfulness. The documentary is called Mindfulness and Movement~ Be the change you want to see. We are hoping to share this with the LVA community once completed and look forward to celebrating this amazing journey in Mindfulness and Movement with all of you.
A huge thank you to Lynn Fischer, Amber Kraft, and Quanesha Johnson for all their support with bringing Mindfulness and Movement to LVA. I also, would like to acknowledge the LVA High School Seniors working on the documentary Brian Aldana, Gianmarco Fernandez, and Michael Domic. This Mindfulness journey would not be possible without all of you and your ongoing support.
Let’s Move and Be Mindful Together~
Movement Specialist and Mindfulness Coach