“Close your eyes and listen as far outside as you can. Listen for the birds or a car driving by. Now listen in the building…listen for the children laughing downstairs. Now listen in the room … for the clock ticking. Now listen for your heartbeat … and breathe.”
This might sound like a yoga class, but the students in the Brown Memorial Tutoring Program are starting their sessions with a 5-minute mindfulness exercise, preparing their minds and bodies for concentration and work with their tutors.
Last fall, the Tutoring Program hosted an opening day presenter and trainer from the Holistic Life Foundation, an organization that provides mindfulness workshops and mentoring to more than 14 Baltimore City schools, who shared statistics of increased attention span, fewer fights and outbursts of anger, and a decrease in suspensions in the schools that they serve.
Brown Memorial’s tutors were impressed with the results and willing to implement these techniques during opening group time, before starting their individual sessions with students. This year Tutoring Program staff and tutors are observing a more peaceful beginning to sessions, an increase in focus and a decrease in behavioral issues.
A 5th grader in the program from Mount Royal Elementary School pointed out that practicing mindfulness is important to people. “It can help you calm yourself down from whatever you were doing before.”