2Lesson 1 – Puppy Training ObjectivesTo introduce pupils to their faculty of attentionFor pupils to experience that they can direct their attentionFor pupils to understand the untrained mind’s fickle nature– it is like a puppyTo begin to provide some simple tools for training their attentionTo introduce key attitudes to attention-training: kindness, patience, repetitionLesson FlowWe have this faculty called ‘attention’. I’ll explain it using a torchWe can direct our attentionOnce directed, we can explore what we findBut our attention is often hijacked by what is more immediate and interestingLet’s experience how to direct our attentionA playful mini body scan:Start with handsGo to feetFinish with breathingPractice 1Practice 2It’s not easyOur minds are like puppiesTrain your mind like you train a puppy… with kindness, patience, repetitionAim and sustain your attention for 2 minutesPractice 3But it CAN be trainedThere are strategies to help stabilise our attentionTry ‘finger breathing’Home PracticeResourcesCount breaths in a minute before and after homeworkHow easy or difficult is it to ‘sense’ different parts of the bodyTorch / flashlight
3Welpentraining 1. Stunde Mit der Aufmerksamkeit spielen In setting up the room you might put a Student Booklet for each student on their desk or seat. As they arrive, you could encourage them quietly to read the page of the booklet that reminds them of the ‘ground rules’ for the course.You may also choose to ‘formally’ begin the lesson by asking them to loosen their ties, or take off their shoes, or another simple gesture that reflects a transition from the noisy busy-ness of normal school into the calm of this particular lesson.Welcome to this first session of our Mindfulness course. Why do you think it’s called Puppy Training? [Stress here that they are not the puppies, but their minds.]For now, though, I’d like to remind you of one of our ground rules or agreements for these mindfulness lessons:This is the theme of strong silence. This is not about being quiet because I want you to be quiet – that’s weak silence. This is about a deep commitment to yourself, to your own well-being, in which you give yourself the gift of being more still, calm and quiet as a way of being kind to your own mind – of finding how you can look after and train your mind in ways that are incredibly helpful to you and that can bring you a lot of joy, satisfaction and strength.So, during this lesson try to be in your own zone, your own space. And try also to give others their space too. Do this course for yourself, as a real gift and deep benefit to yourself. And let others do the same…1. StundeWelpentrainingMit der Aufmerksamkeit spielen
4Der Scheinwerfer der Aufmerksamkeit This course is about training our minds, and in this first session, we’re going to be looking at one the most powerful and least understood aspects of our minds: our power of ATTENTION.
5Pay attention! Pass auf! Konzentriere dich! Let’s look at this word “attention”. Hands up if you’ve ever been told to “pay attention”! I guess we all have! What does this phrase mean to you?When do people/teachers tend to say it and why? Does it have a positive or a negative feeling to you? [Kids often think of “Pay Attention” as a negative injunction. Try to encourage them to let go of this and reframe the way they think about this word.]But “attention” is much more subtle and interesting than that. On this course I’m hoping to train you to pay attention to things in a completely different way… to the way you think, the way you move, the way you eat, the way you breathe, to the way you live every moment of your lives.Because “attention” really matters! Every moment of every day is spent paying attention to one thing after another. [Give examples: waking up, alarm clock, thought of shower, breakfast, thought of school, family, radio, bus coming, sights and sounds of the day etc. Or in the classroom now: teacher talking, pictures on walls, what’s happening through windows, people around us, sounds, memories, body sensations of hunger, daydreams etc.]We’re never not paying attention to something, except perhaps when we’re asleep, and perhaps even then…
6„Aufmerksamkeit” – ist vergleichbar mit einer Taschenlampe, die wir auf etwas richten. 1For this part of the lesson use a Maglite torch/flashlight (or equivalent) as a visual aid, pointing its beam to one thing after another in the classroom, zooming in and zooming out to illustrate how we can narrow or widen the scope of our attention. You might consider before the lesson how best to darken the room at this point.Paying attention to things is a bit like pointing a torch or searchlight at one thing after another. The light of our attention scans around selecting things to focus on…For example, let’s DIRECT OUR ATTENTION onto THIS. Shine torch on an object in the room, perhaps one they might not have noticed before. Encourage the class to look really carefully at the object, at the line, at the colour, at the shape of it.What’s more we can choose either to zoom our attention in [narrow the beam of light to highlight one aspect of the object] or we can choose to expand it to encompass a wider area [widen beam of light].However, we can’t always control our attention, as sometimes it will be pulled away by something that is more immediate or exciting. We might be paying to THIS [the first object] when suddenly [drop a book / kick a dustbin / throw something that makes a noise] our attention is hijacked by something else that it hears or sees.At other times our attention just wanders around like this [let the torch roam around the room, stopping here for a moment, then going on to the next thing].And at other times it can even feel like it does this [switch off the torch] . We just feel dozy or vacant.
7„Erforschen” – ist wenn wir die Dinge, die wir mit der Taschenlampe beleuchten, genauer beobachten und untersuchen.2We can notice something else: that when the attention finds something that it’s interested in, it tends to stay there for a while and explore the experience – maybe it listens to someone as they’re talking, or looks at people out of the window, or thinks about a painful or a pleasant memory, or has a fantasy about what’s for lunch.We can call this “EXPLORATION” or “Investigation”. This tends to connect us to what we’re paying attention to – we get to know it in some way.Earlier I shone the torch on THIS [the object from previous page], and we spent a few moments exploring and investigating it, looking at it carefully and with curiosity.
8Now as our first practical mind-training exercise together, we’re going to use these two qualities of DIRECTING ATTENTION and EXPLORATION / INVESTIGATION and see what effect they have.Rather than “pay attention” we’re going to “PLAY attention” [Click for the animation.]So to begin, I’d like to invite you to practise sitting well: feet shoulder width apart on the floor, hands in your lap. Try to find a way of sitting upright in which your spine has its full length, but everything around your spine – the rest of your body – feels relaxed.Now we’re going to clap in time, 1, 2, 3, and when we’ve clapped we’re just going to hold out our hands like this, as if we’re holding a ball.1-2-3 CLAPNow, holding your hands out in front of you like this, as if you’re holding a ball, and putting your attention into your hands, “pay attention” to your hands, in the sense of feeling them from the inside, paying attention to the physical sensations in your hands, maybe a tingling, fizzing, pulsing sensation, maybe a warm “pins-and-needles-ish” feeling, maybe numbness or cold… it doesn’t matter… simply noticing as best you can whatever is there.[Note that this builds on the “hands” practice of the Introduction so it shouldn’t feel completely alien to them.]Try closing your eyes, if you feel comfortable doing so, and see if that helps - just paying attention to whatever is happening in your hands.Let’s zoom in even more: can you feel the thumbs?PlayPayattention!
9Now, if you can, try hopping your attention from the thumb and into the finger next to it. Don’t worry if you can’t, but now see if you can walk your attention from finger to finger until your reach your little fingers.Again, don’t worry if you can’t, but see if you can zoom in on the very tip of one or both of your little fingers.If you can’t do this, just exploring any sensations at all that are taking place in the hands.Now let’s move a little further afield. Resting your hands on the desk or in your lap [don’t forget this instruction or they’ll be left holding their hands out for the whole practice!], and dropping your attention down into your feet.Can you feel where your feet are touching the floor? Where, exactly are the contact points with the floor?Again, let’s zoom in more closely. Can you feel the big toe on one of your feet? How about the little toe? Can you feel anything in between? Or is it just a bit blurry at the moment? Do they all feel kind of similar?How about your… stomach. Your belly. What does that feel like that? As you breathe, can you feel your belly expanding and contracting? Or is that rise and fall happening a bit higher up, in your chest?And let’s explore a bit further. Can you feel…The small of your back? Your right knee? Your left elbow? Your right earlobe?And now, your nose…? Try taking a slightly longer, deeper breath and seeing if you can feel the physical sensation of the breath passing in and out of your nostrils. Becoming aware that when you breathe in, the breath feels quite cold, but then once it has had a whiz around your lungs and you breathe out, it feels slightly warmer…See if you can widen the lens and feel your whole body breathing. Feel how breathing is a whole body experience – feeling how there’s an inflating as you breathe in, and a letting go as you breathe out… feel your body sitting and breathing….Finally, where in your body is it easiest to notice these sensations of breathing? Where EXACTLY in your body are these sensations of breathing most vivid to you – is it in the nose? Or is it in the belly? There is no correct answer to this, but think about where you find it easiest to pay attention to the breath, as we’ll come back to this in the next exercise.And then, when you’re ready, gradually open your eyes.So, how was that? What did you notice? [DISCUSSION]
10Aufmerk-samkeit ist wie ein kleiner Welpe Er läuft ziellos herum und schnüffelt.Aufmerk-samkeit ist wie ein kleiner WelpeEr bleibt nicht da, wo er sein soll.Er bringt dir Sachen, die du nicht möchtest.Er bringt Dinge durcheinander.So we can see that training our attention is a bit like training a puppy.I tell my attention to focus here, or focus there, or do this, or do that, but it doesn’t stay still. It doesn’t do what I say.It’s like training a puppy to “stay” or “heel”. You put the puppy down and say “stay”. Does the puppy listen? No. It gets up and runs away. You sit the puppy back down again. “Stay”. And the puppy runs away over and over again. Sometimes it jumps up and down, sometimes it yelps, pees in the corner or worse. Minds don’t tend to stay still either, at least in the early stages of our mind-training.The other thing the puppy does is bring things back to you that you didn’t even want. It runs off and finds an old sock or a half-chewed shoe. This is just like the mind trying to pay attention. You ask it to pay attention to one thing, and it goes off and thinks about something completely unrelated!As one mindfulness teacher says: “Our minds are much the same as puppies, only they create bigger messes.”
11WIEDERHOLUNG Konsequent Geduldig Freundlich So in training our minds we have to use the same qualities of FIRM, PATIENT, KIND REPETITION that are needed in order to train a puppy. We need to keep patiently bringing our attention back when we notice that it has wandered off. If it wanders off a hundred times, we bring it back a hundred times.And just as with training a puppy, it doesn’t help if we treat our minds harshly. We need to be FIRM, yes, but also PATIENT and KIND. If a puppy doesn’t do what you want you wouldn’t kick it across the room! Similarly, if your mind doesn’t do what you want it to do, don’t worry, be gentle with yourself, don’t beat yourself up over it.Please bear this in mind when you’re doing the various practical exercises over the next eight weeks. Our minds are very complex things and they don’t always do what we tell them to. When I said, “Pay attention to your left elbow”, some of you may have thought “My left elbow? I can’t even feel my left elbow!” Just do these exercises as best you can, and over time you will find them getting easier.Or when the puppy-mind goes off on its own, don’t worry! This is just what minds do. Just keep bringing your attention back each time it wanders off. That’s what mind-training is all about – learning a new skill that we can’t do already.
12Zweite Übung So now let’s do some more training exercises… In the first, I’m going to set you a simple challenge: Can you go for 2 minutes without losing your mind? Without your attention wandering off somewhere?We’ve called this the “Two Minute Challenge” [CLICK]NB. This exercise is here partly to throw a gauntlet down to any kids who still seem a little disengaged after the first exercise. For those who think this is ‘silly’ or a waste of time, you can provoke them here in a constructive way. Another way of challenging them is to ask: “Do you have your thoughts, or do your thoughts have you?”, or “Do you have any control over what happens in your own head?”.If you’re working with a more vulnerable group or one with lower self-esteem, then you can easily change the tone of this exercise by taking a “Let’s see what happens” approach instead of doing it as a challenge.
13With a puppy, we ask it to “heel”, to “sit”, to “stay” With a puppy, we ask it to “heel”, to “sit”, to “stay”. With our attention we’re going to ask it to “stay” on the physical sensation of breathing for 2 minutes, and see if we can keep it there.2-MinutenExperimentDo you remember at the end of the “Play Attention” exercise I asked you where in your body it was easiest for you to feel the sensations of breathing? Different people feel it more clearly in different places: some find it easier to pay attention to the breath as they feel it comes in their nose; others find it easier to feel the breath in their chest or in their belly.Let’s explore that again. As you breathe right now, and closing your eyes if it makes it easier to concentrate, do you feel the physical sensations of the breath in your nose, perhaps at the nostrils, or inside your nose, or even in your throat? Or do you feel it more in your chest or stomach, feeling the expansion and contraction of your breath there. If you can’t feel anything anywhere then try putting your hand on your belly and feel it rising and falling there.So now choosing one of those things to concentrate on, either the nose or the belly or chest, try paying attention to that point for 2 minutes from the moment I say to start / ring the bell. Aiming your attention at the physical sensation of the breath and trying as best you can to sustain it there. AIMING and SUSTAINING. If during these two minutes your mind wanders away somewhere, just like the puppy would, then gently, patiently, bringing your attention back to the sensations of the breathing in the place that you’ve chosen, and starting again. Aiming and sustaining, and if it wanders, aiming your attention once again to the physical sensation of the breath, cold as you breathe in, warm as you breathe out.After 1 minute simply say “that’s one minute” as a way to help bring back anyone whose mind has wandered.After 2 minutes, simply say “okay, that’s 2 minutes” or ring the bell.So, how did you find that? What did you notice? [Discussion time.]
14There are, though, various strategies that we can use to help stabilise our attention. One strategy you can use is to count your breaths as you breathe. So what we’ll do now, in the last practice that we’re going to do today, is to count how many breaths we do in one minute.Dritte ÜbungWe’ll do this by “finger breathing”. [Demonstrate finger breathing – with the index finger tracing ‘up’ the one finger of the other hand on the in-breath and ‘down’ the other side of that finger on the out-breath.]You may choose to give your attention to the place in the body where you feel the breathing most clearly, as you did before. Or, you may like simply to feel the breathing as it moves through the whole body.I’ll say “Start” and then simply count the breaths as they happen 1,2,3,4, etc. until I say “Stop”. Each in-breath and out-breath together count as one, so In/Out “One”; In/Out “Two”; In/Out “Three” etc.Are you ready? Start….At the end: Stop. How did that go? [Usually best not to ask ‘how many did you do?’ as this easily triggers judgement/ competition/evaluation.]If you do that exercise regularly, you’ll notice that at different times of day and in different moods, your breath count may be very different.In a longer lesson you might try the following alternative strategies for stabilising the attention:Really exploring and investigating the raw sensations of breathing. When we explore or investigate something this really helps us to settle our attention in whatever it is that we’re giving attention to. See if you can focus just on the raw physical sensations themselves, without adding anything to them, such as thoughts or judgements.You can quietly say in your head the words “In” and “Out” while you’re breathing in and out. This can help keep your attention focused on the breathing process.
15Atemzüge zählen Übung der Woche Bevor du mit deinen Hausaufgaben anfängst, zähle wie oft du in einer Minute ein- und ausatmest. Schreibe die Zahl auf.îWiederhole das Zählen, wenn du die Hausaufgaben erledigt hast.îAn important part of this course is you doing some brief mindfulness practices at home.As with any skill such as a sport, or playing a musical instrument, you improve according to how often and how much you practise.Please turn to the pages in the STUDENT BOOKLETS on Lesson One and look at the Home Practice section.Now, explain the home practice, maybe using volunteers to read the instructions. They could do the exercise before or after some other regular event in their day [meals, sports training etc.].Check that they are all clear about what they’re being asked to do.Bemerkst du einen Unterschied?î
16Übung der Woche Übung der Woche Wähle jeden Tag einen der im Schülerheft abgebildeten Körperteile aus.îSchließe die Augen und lenke deine Aufmerksamkeit so gut es geht auf diesen Körperteil.îWie leicht war es, dort Empfindungen wahrzunehmen (auf einer Skala von 0-10,0 = „unmöglich”, 10 = „ganz einfach”)?îAnd immediately after that first practice, I’d like you to try experimenting with the searchlight of attention, as we did at the start of today’s session.Read through the instructions in the booklet together [again, maybe inviting different pupils to read].Check that they all understand the task.Kannst du die Empfindungen beschreiben?î