My journey into mindfulness actually started while I was working in India. Our primary school counsellor offered a mindfulness course to teachers, and ran mindfulness sessions before school. It was a great way to start the day. As Elena explains, mindfulness is the "nonjudgemental cultivation of moment to moment awareness." We begin by noticing our feelings, being aware of their origins, accept what is happening and are intentional about what we do or say next. There is a fantastic quote here:
Practicing mindfulness is like hitting an internal pause button on the drama of life.
Often while I was staying with Mum, I would take myself out for a walk, and listen to a mindfulness meditation on Buddhify. One of my favourites spoke about the sky and how clouds came and went, and perhaps bad weather came and went - but the sky was always there - it was not the clouds or the weather. In the same way our thoughts and emotions come and go - and we are not our thoughts and emotions.
Currently I try to do a yoga class each week and to meditate each day for about 10 minutes. I can totally relate to the "monkey mind" which jumps around from one thing to the next, both past and present. What I've also noticed is that it's become progressively easier to become and remain calm.
I was really interested to read the research about teachers who practice mindfulness. They experience lower levels of stress and burnout, report greater efficacy in their jobs, have more emotionally supportive classrooms and more organised classrooms. It's interesting to note that if you are calm and focused and self aware that it's more likely your students will be these things as well - and mindfulness has so many other benefits such as improving attention, memory and self-control, boosting your immune system, helping with insomnia and the management of depression and chronic pain.
Another interesting section of Chapter 5 is the section about happy people doing better work, and how having "appropriate challenge" makes us happy. We know this with our students of course, but as a school leader we need to consider this for our teachers as well!
Final thoughts - it was quite fascinating to read that people have about 65,000 thoughts a day. I did the maths at that's actually 45 thoughts a minute - meaning we have just over a second for each one! Elena writes:
Thoughts and emotions are visitors who knock on the door of our house. With meditation we can learn to greet them, acknowledge them, exercise choice about how to relate to them, and then watch them go. Those thoughts that make you anxious, insecure, irritated or ashamed don't need to stay with you.
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