A Buddhist culture that couldn’t smell the roses

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I recently came back from a four week trip to China. I went there to teach students, in English, several units of a Diploma of Marketing. I found it a very enjoyable experience, and learned very much about the people.

As I discovered there are many Buddhists in China I thought it would be relatively easy to introduce a component of mindfulness into my teaching. The students’ level of English was fairly lowsh but  I guessed that they would probably understand where I was coming from with my meditation!! Although it was not part of the curriculum I could not help my enthusiasm but to try and involved it somehow in the classroom.

The students loved the singing bowl I used to start off, it brought a big smile to their faces. And after the four minute meditation they seemed to be somewhat relaxed…lowered heads, heads resting on desks etc so I proposed to do it again the next day (and the next, and the next…).

However, after speaking to  students afterwards I decided not to as they were not that keen.  It made them sleepy.   I was so disappointed. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t completely enthusiastic about it as I was. Surely half of them were Buddhists! They were probably doing it all the time weren’t they?

I had gone to great pains to explain the definition of the words I was going to use and I think they understood.  But then again they were there to study and not to do anything else. Perhaps this was ingrained so deeply into them that they could not find any way of breaking through this.

Days later I went walking with one of my students and I decided to give her a guided walking meditation. She absolutely adored it and said how wonderful she felt afterwards. It was then I explained to her this was the outcome I was trying to achieve by bringing my meditation into the classroom.

So if I go back to China I will try again and see if I can bring mindfulness back into the classroom. But I will spend more time explaining the benefits and hopefully they will take some time to stop and smell the roses.

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