Contemplative Pedagogy: Standing Meditations

The class has insisted all semester on keeping to our Thursday meditation schedule. It has been a challenge to think up new meditations.  My role is to conduct a writing class, not a meditation class. The goal is to introduce them to the concept of meditation, and to allow them to experience the feelings and thoughts which meditation induces.  To that end, I have tried to vary their experience by introducing varying ways of meditating.

Physical changes are part of the contemplative experience.  Maintaining silence is in itself a physical change, but we tried a couple of other ways as well.

SWITCH:  Each student picks up his or her gear and chooses a different seat in the classroom. The effects are striking. Besides breaking up cliques or co-dependencies, it mildly shakes up thought processes, and is like a game, providing humor and delight. This practice might become annoying if it were frequent, but can be used when the class is lethargic, or as a variant from time to time. It wouldn’t qualify as a full meditation, but is a class enhancer.

TURN AROUND:  We began our meditation with the lights out and the door closed, sitting, feet on the floor, arms at rest, breathing.  After about two minutes, I asked them to stand up and continue their meditation.  After another two minutes, I asked them to turn around and face outward. At the end of the meditation, I asked them to sit back down and take five deep breaths.

Their comments on each of the above experiences were few. I attribute this to the reticent personality of this class. (Each class has its own personality and I believe that part of the challenge of a teacher is to tailor the pace and content of a course to each unique class.) I thought it was acceptable that they kept their feelings about the meditations to themselves. They again and again expressed appreciation and enjoyment of our meditations, and that was enough.

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