Adam Bernstein I lead a jazz department at a private school in Brooklyn, New York. Our school is very overcrowded and the atmosphere is often tense. The students and faculty often speak of the tension and when an opportunity to slow down occurs, we all benefit.
I have just begun my fifth year at the school and have always used mindfulness practice as a part of my teaching. Every year I’ve led meditation workshops for the students (grades 7 - 12) and many of them claim to enjoy it. They have interesting questions about spiritual life and they seem to be searching for a way to be more at home within themselves.
Recently I’ve begun to sound the bell in almost all my classes. I explain that this is a time to come back to ourselves, to relax and focus. I tell the students it is a time to enjoy doing nothing. That is a real surprise to them — I want them to do nothing! We breathe together for a few breaths and it never fails to settle all of us down. It’s very helpful to the spirit of the class and often there is a light humorous feeling. Many of the students think I’m a bit loony but I don’t mind. It’s true, I am.
Our school decided to have a Peace One Day assembly in solidarity with the program endorsed by the United Nations. I was asked to lead a short meditation so I decided to offer an apple eating meditation. We bought 600 organic Gala apples from the local food co-op. We really enjoyed washing them! We passed them out at the assembly and I spoke about mindful eating. The students and faculty were happy to be doing something so unusual and were very attentive to their apple. When I told them to take the first bite, a loud crunch sounded and all 600 of us began laughing. Everyone remembers that assembly to this day.
I have much gratitude for the practice and feel genuine happiness sharing it with my students and co-workers.
Adam Bernstein, Radiant Joy of the Heart.