Ironwood Maine Web Update

A few weeks prior I wrote about how noisy it is around campus. It was noted that our days are filled with a variety of structured activities to support physical, emotional, and social engagement. From the time that our residents wake up and shuffled into morning exercise all the way through obligatory journaling time in the evening, this campus is moving and shaking. Creating opportunities for learning, managing challenges, and accomplishing a variety of tasks.

In the days since, I’ve taken to the time to think about how we can utilize this environment to be the most impactful for our students. I am sure we can all relate to moving so ferociously through a day that we are moving on the next task before even completing the one we are working on. Or, while having a conversation with one individual, we are contemplating another situation quietly in our head. This week, I’ve looked at how our program balances the scheduling demands and individual responsibilities of our students and mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Ironwood’s mindfulness looks quite a bit different than what you might imagine…

I am sure you have all received a letter exclaiming about how “ridiculous” the rules are at Ironwood…especially at Frye.

“I have to ask for permission to sit down, or to leave a room!!!”

At first glance, without appropriate processing or explanation they can be viewed as unnecessarily controlling.  Yet, given context and explanation of transference, these expectations have a far greater benefit than control.

There are several ways to practice mindfulness and Ironwood’s program and expectations help to implement and ensure that this practice is consistent. Asking to sit, or permission to enter creates a conscious understanding of the student’s daily behaviors. It highlights how much movement happens and forces each student to take notice to their actions and movements, before they happen. Monitored conversations have multiple positive factors, one of which is the creation of being mindful through communication. Requesting to speak, and then actively engaging into what is being said, allows for practice in mindful communication. Throughout the program, students participate in reflection periods, which creates an intentional space for mindful observation and awareness. Time taken aware from the day to focus on a specific thought or action. Harvesting firewood, or pulling weeds could be considered pointless, but these Service Reflection activities provide time and space for students to process events or thoughts while engaging in physical activity. This combination of physical engagement is proven to be beneficial when working through a situation, cognitively.

Mindfulness is when you choose to pay attention to the present moment, on purpose. To concentrate attention on what we choose, rather than having emotions, thoughts, or other experiences control us. It requires disciplined practice to slow down and be content. Mindfulness doesn’t need to be practiced in a yoga studio, or on the beach, it should exist throughout the entire day, wherever you are.

There have been countless positive moments throughout our campus this week and your child is growing internally, regardless of his/her current level.

Thank you for putting your trust in Ironwood and have a very pleasant weekend.  Happy Mother’s Day, too!

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