Lotus Liberal Arts is rooted in the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and being aware of yourself and your surroundings. The practice of mindfulness helps an individual to remain calm and self aware. It fosters self-control, the primary developmental task of young adulthood. We all need to be more thoughtful and calm in our daily lives so that we can minimize the reactive behavior and focus on what is at the core of how we feel and what we do. Fostering a thoughtful, ethical approach reinforces a clear sense of who we are and what we want from life. We start with the teaching of meditation everyday in the morning. Our students come to school, settle in, and then enter a room with their peers and teachers and work towards being still and silent. We guide them through basic meditation practices and a general introduction to both the social and developmental utility of them. Our academics and mindfulness foster engaged, creative young adults who are ready to contribute to your educational community.
Nutrition and Physical Education: Martial arts, yoga, healthy eating, and chores are an integral part
of every student’s school day experience
➢ Students develop an awareness of how their inner lives are rooted in the experience of their bodies.
➢ Students develop an appreciation for how fresh, healthy food is prepared, presented, consumed, and shared.
➢ They come to an understanding of how meals contribute to a healthy community.
➢ Students learn the importance of careful, attentive work to maintain the building and grounds.
They demonstrate concern and care for maintaining good order and the school practices.
➢ They are encouraged to support, appreciate, and hold accountable their fellow students in completing these tasks.
➢ Students apply and observe these experiences in the flow of the school community.
Mindfulness is paying attention to the here and now with kindness and curiosity. It is the practice of being present and aware. Research shows that mindfulness increases attention skills, reduces anxiety and improves emotional balance. Mindfulness in a school setting enhances academic engagement.
Mindfulness is very straightforward, just accepting what comes in the present moment and being open to what is next. This is a natural part of human awareness, but one that is easily swept aside by the rough and tumble quality of daily life. By training young people in these skills within the context of a committed school community and by building the whole school day around the continuous practice of mindfulness in academic work, social life, and good health, young people can become very resilient and adaptable.
I am always surprised by how many of my students over the years had never cleaned a bathroom. Or cooked a meal for others. These aren’t “chores”! These are gifts to others. This inherent ability to help, to give, to be part of a community makes the whole day meaningful. This ethic radiates into academic work. The super sharp kid in the math class learns to help a fellow student, and to step back and make room for less adept. The shy kid suddenly realizes that her comments change the whole conversation, and this creates an opening for the other unsure students. This patience that students learn with themselves and others clears a path for wonderful intellectual, emotional, and artistic development.
There is a profound connection between becoming resilient and eating correctly. Healthy food, prepared with skill and care, is the root of community. Eating together is just like taking care of each other. Expressing gratefulness, taking only “just enough”, cleaning and helping, is all caring for the self and caring for others. Ideally, the mindfulness we cultivate in the classroom, the meditation room, and the kitchen all encourage each other.
It is this potential for community and connection that that makes me believe the whole school day can be such an extraordinary tool for training young people. Studying, discussing, testing, cooking, cleaning, eating, all of these are opportunities for students to slow down and notice what they are experiencing inside, and to make room for others to have their own experience, too. This is caring for others as one cares for oneself. The opportunity arises in the presence of others, in every moment, in every community, as we all move up and down with life in its complex rhythms. It opens the door for truly profound learning.
~ by Peter Ryan
Another Article by Peter Ryan