Centering practices not only fuel the spiritual identity development of those who embrace them but they support healthy development across all learning domains. Recently, in a two-part centering, grade 6 explored the interdependence of a healthy physical immune system and a healthy emotional immune system. I had the pleasure of joining them on day two but as evidenced by the notes from the previous day, the centering yielded a great discussion about things that cause imbalances in physical immune systems. The kids produced a lengthy list of ways to fuel a healthy physical immune system.

On the second day, after setting the tone with their rituals, the 6th grade teacher began the centering with guiding questions: Can you remember a time when your emotional immune system was out of balance? What happened- how did you feel and what tools did you use to bring yourself back into balance?

As I listened to the discussion I smiled with awe and gratitude as these 12 year olds dropped into a deep discussion of their emotional well-being- How often do you hear 6th graders chatting about just that?

They shared openly and honestly about tools that they use to bring themselves back to a state of grace. Some of the insight that emerged from that discussion included “being quiet in my room”, “listening to music”, “spending time in my backyard”, “taking a quiet time to reflect and draw” and “taking a walk outside” The discussion continued with the introduction of a new word- catharsis. One of the teachers offered the analogy that an emotional back up is like damming water in a river…the catharsis or release is so important to move the waste through. The conversation continued to emphasize a holistic perspective of the body- anything you do for your emotional health will in turn support your physical health and vice versa. As with many centerings, the practice is extended via a creative project. At this point, the students were asked to write a “doctor’s prescription” This prescription was meant to outline steps taken that would bring their emotional immune system back into balance. The extension encouraged creativity while nurturing a deeper connection to the tools and resources that the kids use to bring themselves back into a state of grace. Below is a humorous example offered by student, Noah Anderson.

“Hug a cat for 10 minutes, 12 times a day for 2 months. Side effects may include itchy skin from fleas, running eyes from allergies and lots of accumulated fur. Warning! If you are hugging dogs instead, ask a doctor if hugging cats is right for you.” This prescription would certainly nurture my emotional well-being.

How can what we do at RCS inspire your own personal or professional work? Consider these questions.

In the spirit of connecting with the work of these students, what would your prescription be for a healthy physical immune system? Emotional immune system?

What tools or resources would you use to bring yourself back into a state of grace?

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