Full Value & Mindfulness – Perfect Together

Full Value & Mindfulness – Perfect Together

The task is simple; just lower the hoop to the ground as a group in 10 minutes or less. The rules are that it must rest on only two fingers of each participant and that no one may physically disconnect their fingers while it is being lowered. These are part of the instructions that are delivered when we introduce the Full Value Helium Hoop. This seemingly modest task tends to get out of control rather quickly. There are many reasons for this. It may be that students do not want to experience failure or take responsibility for failure, which means losing contact with the hoop. The desire to maintain contact at all costs forces the hoop upward. Some students do not feel a commitment to participate. Others may find satisfaction in actively working against success. And in some instances, a paralysis sets in perhaps due to the fear of making a mistake and the hoop does not move at all.

Rarely does a group get this on their first attempt. After letting the group struggle for a few minutes, we offer a brief relaxation and focusing practice. The group almost always initially improves but then reverts back to their previous state of chaos or rigidity. The framing and build up to this activity include discussion around the behaviors and norms of effective groups and the psychological safety needed to allow these norms to thrive. It also includes the introduction of the six behavioral norms of the Full Value Commitment (written on the hoop). It is only when students become more connected and practiced in the Full Value norms that they are successful in their attempt to lower the hoop. This experience becomes a living metaphor for the group’s functioning and wellbeing.

What initially allows the group to start their path to success is each student’s ability to stay focused, receptive and to remain equable. They all need to be responding to each other in a deliberate manner rather reacting haphazardly. This requires awareness of their own and other’s connection to the hoop and adjusting accordingly from moment to moment. The individual choice by each student to be, “mindful” exponentially increases the group’s success at this initiative.
Mindfulness is a perfect companion to Full Value and social emotional learning as it offers practices that enhance our inner ability to live the Full Value norms.

(This is an excerpt from the chapter on Mindfulness and Full Value in our recently published book titled, “The Full Value School: A Social Emotional Learning Community.” It is available here for ordering.)


  • Eric Oberg
    Posted April 24, 2020 at 12:45 am 0Likes

    This is so simple and so difficult at the same time! I’d love to try it in a group. Does it help to imagine that it must come down inevitably; or that it is really heavy; or that one must barely touch it? I think it would take a lot of effort just to let it stay at the starting level.

    • Richard Maizell
      Posted April 24, 2020 at 1:16 am 0Likes

      It is called a helium hoop because it tends to immediately start to rise as the group tries to maintain finger contact. The visual imagery you propose might be something for a group to try! When we can all get within six feet of each other we can get a group together and give it a go!

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