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The week back to school after a long winter break is often buzzing with excitement and anticipation. During these days, children will share stories of their time apart, celebrate coming back together and show enthusiasm for what is to come. Time is also set aside for deep reflection, individual and collaborative goal setting and for the renewal of commitments to oneself and to others.

This last week yielded particularly frigid temperatures and harsh weather conditions, embedded within the season of darkness. These winter circumstances provided a perfect context for a centering led by 4th-grade teachers, Susie and Molly.

As the centering began, Susie picked one of several snake skins that were decorating the classroom altar. She explained that the snake skin was a symbol of renewal and that by being able to let go of or shed that which no longer serves us, we make room for a renewal of those things that do.

She then invited all her students to collect a meditation mat and cushion, to remove their shoes, and to lie down and stretch out their bodies. She asked them to begin to settle in by allowing their bodies to become still, to notice their breath and to quiet their minds. She played some soothing music while she and Molly applied warm compresses to the eyes of those students who had requested them. She explained that the compresses served as a tool that helps you to relax, tune out the things around you and help you to send your focus inward.

Susie then led the students in a meditation that began with a body scan; a mindfulness technique that allows you to focus your attention on your physical being in an effort to achieve deep relaxation.

Susie proceeded with a guided meditation. She stated, “now that the work of your body is settled, lets gently enter the mind. Even in the state of easy rest, your thoughts have great power.”

“You have the power to build light inside of yourself each day. So as we settle into winter, a time of darkness and rest, take these next few breaths to speak kind thoughts to yourself. Allow yourself to imagine that with each thought, your body fills with light.”

“Now that you have built your fire, keep it burning. Remember that this time of renewal does not only come once a year, but every day, and with every moment. Continue to stoke your fire”

“You also have the power to share your light with others.”

“Imagine that your light streams out through your ears, use this to listen for opportunities to compliment a friend.”

“Imagine that your light streams out through your hands, use this to create beauty and offer a gentle touch to friends or family.”

“Imagine that your light streams out through your eyes, use this to observe others from a place of integrity and empathy so that you do not judge just based on what you see.”

“Imagine that your light streams out through your mouth, use this to speak with intention and compassion because words are so deeply powerful.”

“Imagine that your light streams out of the top of your head, use this to share your brilliance and uplifting thoughts with others.”

Susie closed centering by inviting an awareness back to the room, the present moment and one another.

I am sure many of you have already engaged in your own reflective practice for the new year. I am sure many of you have worked to let go of the things that don’t serve you. I am sure many of you are already rich with goals and intentions for a new year filled with joy and happiness.

In order to better achieve those goals or live those intentions, I invite you, during this time of darkness, to claim your personal power and to embrace the tools and techniques that help you to turn your light and share it with others.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”  ~ Dumbledore

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