Mindful Parents & Educators

 

One of the very few things we can control is…

…the way we’re paying attention. This is true in general, and most certainly with respect to our interactions with children. So welcome to the U School’s mindfulness training program. MP&E, as we call it, gives parents and educators a system of attentional training techniques and strategies which, when deployed in the presence of children, can noticeably improve our relationships with them. (When it’s deployed in other contexts, it delivers other improvements as well.)

 

Upcoming Offerings

Spring 2019

Summer 2019

 

Calendar Courses


What is MP&E?

The core of this program is the 8-week intro; this is when you boot up your own practice and get acquainted with the central techniques and concepts. Once you’ve completed that, you unlock all the rest at once. What’s next is a series of 4-week extensions, the first of which is about how to share your practice with children. Take a look at how it starts:

  • “This class was transformative! At a time in my life, with two kids under 4, I knew something needed to change and this class came to the rescue. I was struggling with a lot of newly developed anger that I hadn’t experienced before, it was new territory for me. This class helped me focus on things with a whole new perspective. Charlie is a fantastic, clear instructor and I left each class feeling renewed. As we all know, nothing is a quick fix, but this class started me on the right path and I look forward to continuing my practice.”
  • “The course was an introduction to mindfulness to me. It jumpstarted my meditation practice, which has helped feel more aware and grounded every day. One huge benefit has been increased patience and connection with my kids. My daughter and I practice mindful activities often, from mindful eating to mindful walks where we focus on listening and looking. It’s a great way for us to spend time together.”

Whether you have some meditation practice under your belt already, or you are a fresh beginner, no problem. You can attend in person, or via Skype. This course is intended for parents—particularly parents of preschoolers, although its benefits are not limited to relationships with the 3-5-year-old set. Folks with older (and younger) children have also found that the techniques we study are relevant and applicable to their parenting. You do not have to be a parent at the U School to participate; MP&E is open to anyone. And since everything we learn in the MP&E course has been road-tested in classroom settings, teachers are also invited.* Once again, it might seem that preschool educators would be the most natural fit for this class; however, teachers from other school contexts also report that this course benefits their interactions with students.

*For early childhood professionals, up to nine completed hours can go towards required annual professional development.

 


Calendar

Click course names to see their descriptions; click dates to sign up.

Spring 2019

Summer 2019

Fall 2019

Winter 2019

Pre-Spring 2020

Spring 2020

Summer 2020

 


Courses

  • Everything starts from the intro; once you’ve taken that, you can take it again or any extension course. The intro is 8 weeks, all extension courses are 4 weeks.
  • MP&E classes take place at the U School (or over Skype) on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 pm, EST.
  • 50% of the proceeds go into the U School’s tuition fund.

Pricing

  • Intro: $104 per individual / $156 if you register as a couple.
  • Extensions: $52 per individual / $78 if you register as a couple.
  • Discounts: We want to encourage people to dive into as much initial training as possible. If you register for the intro and first extension at once, you receive a 15% discount.
  • Punch cards: $132 per individual…Once you’ve taken the intro, you can purchase a card redeemable for any 12 MP&E sessions you want to drop in on. Encourage yourself to retreat back to the U School for the occasional Wednesday to push some deep “reset” buttons. Or, better yet, just keep coming. If you would like one, the way to get it is simply to e-mail Ryan.

 

Intro: Boot Up Your Practice

Intro Course Manual

The motto of this class is, put your own oxygen mask on first. We will learn four core attentional training practices, along with specific applications geared towards parenting and teaching challenges. By the end of this class, you will focus and adjust your attention in real time to adapt and respond to life in a more optimal way. This class is for beginners, but people with previous mindfulness practice will also benefit.

Techniques

  • Focus Out: Anchor your awareness in the external world of sights, sounds, and touches. Observe children and listen to them more objectively, with less-divided attention.
  • Focus In: Watch your sense of self processing through mental images, mental talk, and emotional sensations in real time. Reduce the flooding of mental/emotional stress and increase your patience power.
  • Focus on Rest: Get in touch with the tranquil sides of life, and learn to access and project calmness in the midst of the storm.
  • Nurture Positive: Improve and rebuild yourself at the level of mental and emotional habits, so that you can turn outward and better influence the world around you.

Dates

  • Spring 2019: April 3 – May 22
  • Fall 2019: September 18 – November 6
  • Spring 2020: March 4 – April 29 (With a week off in the middle for Spring Break)

 

Extension 1: Practice With Children

Ext 1 Course Manual

Now that we have embarked on our own path, we’re ready to turn around and share mindfulness directly with children. We’ll resist the temptation to settle for a handful of mindfulness activities that only scratch the surface of the work we can really do if we stop to talk about what young children’s mindfulness is really all about. (But yeah, we’ll also talk about activities you can immediately take home or into your classroom.) We will also extend our own practice by approaching the techniques we learned in the intro course from a new angle.

Saturday Morning Mindfulness Pop-In

On the Saturday following the end of the Practice With Children extension, families who’ve completed this course will be invited to attend a short morning mindfulness retreat for parents and children at the U School, where we’ll put some of our new practices into action.

Techniques

  • Focus on See: Enjoy and clarify all visual experience, leaving behind the distinctions between seeing In and Out. (This is more like how a child sees.)
  • Focus on Hear: Just listen to your self and your environment. Enjoy and clarify the deep spaces and silences of sound.
  • Focus on Feel: Love and appreciate your body to the fullest; it rewards your close attention.
  • Nurture Positive: Improve and rebuild yourself at the level of mental and emotional habits, so that you can turn outward and better influence the world around you.

Dates

  • Summer 2019: June 26 – July 17 + Pop-in on July 20
  • Winter 2019: November 13 – December 11 (With a week off in the middle for Thanksgiving) + Pop-in on December 14
  • Spring 2020: May 6 – 27 + Pop-in on May 30

 

Extension 2: Behavior Improvement

We all have good habits we want to strengthen, and bad habits we want to weaken. One of the five core benefits of mindfulness practice is behavior improvement. What are some effective ways to use techniques we already know to target specific behaviors we’d like to change in ourselves? We’ll be working in familiar territory, but with some new tweaks to the practice that can amplify our sensitivity to the arisings of certain urges we’d like to overcome, or nurture the resolve to continue improving ourselves. Over these four weeks, you’ll set and track your own goal(s) for personal behavior improvement, and we’ll also work collectively on a shared goal: Weakening our own addiction to screen time. (Right?)

Techniques

  • Focus In: Watch your sense of self processing through mental images, mental talk, and emotional sensations in real time. Reduce the flooding of mental/emotional stress and increase your patience power.
  • Nurture Positive: Improve and rebuild yourself at the level of mental and emotional habits, so that you can turn outward and better influence the world around you.

Dates

 

Extension 3: Choiceless Awareness

I want to start meditating, but I don’t know what technique I should choose right now. Has this ever happened to you? It’s a funny feeling. In that moment of indecision, you’re experiencing the agitation of a deep circuit in the brain, the one that constantly stitches together sensory experience into what normally seems like our ongoing life story. What happens if we give up on that choice, and instead surrender to all experience, with no focus range? This course is about two ways to do that, with implications of new perspectives on the relationship between self and world. Bottom line: by not targeting anything, choiceless awareness targets the deepest of the three mindful awareness skills—equanimity.

Techniques

  • Note Everything: Open up and note all see/hear/feel/out/in/rest, moment by moment. There are no such things as distractions.
  • Do Nothing: Drop all effort to “meditate” and surrender totally to what is happening. Anti-mindfulness.

Dates

  • Pre-Spring 2020: February 5 – 26

 

Extension 4: Gone Flowing

This course is not about pain management, but it’s useful to start by thinking about how pain feels…Most often, it’s throbbing, pulsing, prickling, vibrating, undulating, or otherwise changing. It turns out that this is not only true of pain, it’s true of almost every experience we observe with enough mindful awareness. Another way to observe our matrix of see/hear/feel/out/in/rest is to note how it’s changing. When we detach ourselves from the content of our experience, and focus on its contour instead, we can enjoy more deeply reduced suffering and elevated fulfillment. That’s what this course is about, plus one more attentional re-adjustment: When you tune your awareness to the ends of things, rather than their beginnings, you tunnel toward the deepest flow state of all.

Techniques

  • Focus on Flow: When examined closely enough, almost all sensory experience is tangibly changing and in flux. Tune into this, and let your senses become their own massage.
  • Note Gone: Pay attention to the ends of things. Access deep rest and deep vitality, perhaps at the same time.

Registration

  • Summer 2020: TBD…

 

Extension 5: Deepening See/Hear/Feel

Enough with the Q&A. You don’t need to learn anything new. You need to spend four Wednesday evenings with some serious cushion time, deepening your skills. (Or, perhaps, getting back on the path with a vengeance after some time astray.) Simple and effective.

Techniques

  • Focus on See: Enjoy and clarify all visual experience, leaving behind the distinctions between seeing In and Out. (This is more like how a child sees.)
  • Focus on Hear: Just listen to your self and your environment. Enjoy and clarify the deep spaces and silences of sound.
  • Focus on Feel: Love and appreciate your body to the fullest; it rewards your close attention.
  • Note Everything: Open up and note all see/hear/feel/out/in/rest, moment by moment. There are no such things as distractions.

Registration

  • Summer 2020: TBD…

 


About the teacher

Charlie’s mindfulness coaching has been ongoing since 2013 after taking teaching courses from Shinzen Young. Charlie has helped people apply mindfulness to work- or family-related stress, to process chronic pain, to interact with more compassion, to break down mental habits or “tape loops,” to improve interactions between teachers and students, and more. His current focus is developing mindfulness trainings for parents, educators, and preschoolers.

If you have any questions about Mindful Parents & Educators course offerings, please e-mail Ryan (U School Director) and/or Charlie.