One of the biggest struggles that I have found in adding mindfulness into my classes is time. Let’s face it, so often we feel like we don’t even have time to get through all of the curriculum and other things that we are required to do. So, how in the world are we going to fit in (and justify) something else?
First, let me repeat again how important I find mindfulness for so many reasons. It has been one of the most beneficial things that I have done for myself and for my students. Keeping that in mind and really believing in what I am doing has helped me to make it a priority in my classroom. It has also kept me passionate to learn everything that I can about it and in turn has allowed me to articulate to administrators, parents and colleagues why I do it. Teacher friends, I cannot say enough about how important it is to understand the research behind what you are doing with mindfulness as well as how important it is to be practicing it in your own life. If you do not see the benefits and the changes that it makes in you, you will have a very difficult time helping your students know why they are doing it. If you want mindfulness to grow in your school and school community, you must get others on board with you. Many may see it as “just another thing” and some may even see it as a very “hippie” or “granola” thing and may dismiss it. Having a clear understanding and a reason for doing it will help you to win them over.
One new way of incorporating mindfulness that I am trying is having my students take a pause for a “class breath”. This is something that came out of a great seminar that I recently attended. I started by talking to my students about wanting to be able to give them more opportunities to practice mindfulness in the confines of our 4Oish minute class. We talked again about all the ways that simple breathing can help us (this was a topic that I introduced early on in the year when we started mindfulness). I have the students take a deep breath while placing one hand on their chest and the other on their belly. I wanted them to pay close attention to breathing in a way where they not only felt their chest move, but also felt the breath all the way into their belly. I shared that I would from time to time during class announce that it was time for a class breath. I count to three and together we all just take a simple deep breath.
This is new. In fact today is the first day that I have used this technique. However, immediately I noticed that not only was it a really great way to collectively focus students without needed to be loud and disruptive, but it is also a great way to refocus and calm myself. Everything about the class seemed to take pause and it feels so much less hectic. We all have days where our patience is shot and we think that there is no way we will make it through the day. When you are feeling that way, I challenge you to try taking a simple deep breath before you address your students and even invite them to do it with you!!