Mindfulness

If you're stuck for an assembly idea, you might try this one which I used to good effect the other day:

Start the assembly with a memory game: fill two storage crates with assorted items (coat hanger, stapler, umbrella etc.) 10 items in each crate is good. Place a crate on each side of the stage/room. Tell the audience that they are going to need to remember, in order preferably 10 items that will shortly be paraded in front of them - no smart phones or paper allowed! Pick two pupils (or staff) that you trust and ask them to walk, relay fashion from one side of the room to the other picking up an object and waving it at the audience as they do so. The more they can ham this up the more fun it is.

Whilst the parade is going on record the items that are taken in front of the audience and the order in which they are taken. Once the 10 item parade is over pick on members of the audience to tall you what the items were. Award 2 points for the correct item in the correct order; 1 point for mentioning an item but not in its correct position; no points for repeating an item already mentioned, for passing or for guessing an item that never appeared.

Now repeat the process with the remaining 10 items, but this time distract the audience. I got them to keep bouncing two large beach balls above their heads, which they greatly enjoyed, and told them that the beach balls mustn't touch the ground, neither should they stay still. You could play music too if you wanted. Once the second parade is over take the scores again. With a bit of luck the second score will be much lower than the first and the stage will be set for you to draw out a moral message:

We live in a busy world. We're always in a rush.

Over the last day or so you will have been bombarded with new timetables, new names to learn, new course notes to get to grips with as well as, for many of you, dealing with the unfamiliarity of your new surroundings and living away from home for the first time.

It's no surprise you can't concentrate. On top of this the modern world bombards us with constant distractions. We check our e-mails texts and social media updates incessantly. A recent study found that the average Brit spends 9 hours a day in front of a screen. If you add those hours up over a lifetime they tot up to 30 years! Many of us, myself very much included get bored if we're required to stay to wait in a queue or wait for a bus. We don't know what to do with ourselves. When we're not in front of a screen we have to do something play sport, go to the shops, tidy up, chat - anything to avoid being still it seems.

Teachers sometimes complain that the attention span of children is not what it used to be. More social than ever before we're spending less time alone and with our thoughts and even less relating to other animals and to nature. Our little experiment showed that distractions make you miss things.

Some experts suggest mindfulness as a cure to all this. Mindfulness is the act of just sitting in the present, emptying your mind and relishing in the fact of your existence.

At Oswestry, whether you believe in God or not, chapel is a place to come in the middle of a busy week and - for a few precious moments - lay all your troubles at the door and be in the moment. A time to remember that you're a human being not a human doing.

I'd like us now just to be still for a couple of minutes. To close our eyes and forget about what it is we've got to do next. And then I'll say a prayer.....






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