By Abbey Seiden (MATCM Student)
Local public school, Malibu Elementary re-opened on March 15. These were kids that had been sheltered in place with their family members for the past year. Previously this same community suffered the devastating effects of the Woolsey Fire in Fall of 2018. More than half of the families lost their homes and needed to relocate. This is a resilient community of children and parents, with tight “small town vibes” living secluded from Los Angeles. When the children returned to school there were some behavior challenges. In addition, emotionally, students felt sad, confused and overwhelmed.
As the health office specialist, my role at the Elementary School is to help the kiddos in all health related matters. Mostly I was handing out band-aides for scrapes and cuts, and offering ice packs for minor physical traumas. However, sometimes the kids would come to the health office feeling “sick,” maybe with a belly-ache or just not feeling “good.” With COVID compliance in place, anyone who mentioned anything about feeling sick in any regard went through a series of questions outlined on flow charts to determine if they needed to quarantine and also if they (and their family) needed to be tested. These decisions are made by the supervising nurse. It is my job to ascertain reliable objective data. Well, as you can imagine, understanding what’s going on in a Kindergartner’s mind is probably one of the more challenging intakes! “I feel sick” can mean many things including- I miss my mommy and daddy. It could indicate the onset of a common cold, feeling exhausted, or some other expression of emotionality in the physical body. What has been working for these children is a simple Qi Gong exercise. I have them place their hands on the belly, breathe in, fill their belly up with a color. Then as they breathe out, I instruct them to let out the “yucky, dark, stuff” as the belly deflates. On the next breath, I have them breathe new fresh color and fill their whole belly up. In addition, I bring into work heavy rocks and minerals and have the kids hold them in their hands, while rooting down into Bubbling Spring, Kidney 1 point. One 1st grader on the way out of my office looked over her shoulder and said, “Thanks Ms Abbey, I love a healing stone!”
At Malibu Elementary School the teachers are trained in Mindfulness. They often utilize the techniques learned in the Mindful Schools Program and as part of the Mind Up Curriculum. On Friday mornings before faculty meetings one teacher, Ms. Cullen, hosts a mindfulness workshop. She guides us in a centering exercise and through mindfulness she helps set the intention for the day. This is all very exciting to me as the curriculum of mindfulness is already in place on this Elementary School’s campus. I am offering Qi Cultivation in a climate where the teachers have momentum in teaching mindfulness to the students. Partnering with my colleagues I feel supported and energized. I continue to pass on the knowledge of Qi Gong self cultivation whenever a student decides to go into the Health Office, and the results are immediate and impactful.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” -Gandhi
Other Publications by Abbey Seiden: