One of the things that I share with teachers that I have trained is that the number one important element to adding mindfulness to your classroom is making sure that you have your own personal practice. In order to really have an appreciation for what you are doing and what you are asking your students to do, you need to try it out for yourself.
This one piece of advice has been life changing for me. As I have written about before, I suffer from anxiety. I found my way to mindfulness through my own anxiety. I quickly realized how helpful this could be for the students in my classroom that were also suffering. As I have gotten older, my anxiety has grown due to worrying about more adult stuff and the three other humans that I now have the pleasure of worrying about. However, mindfulness has made it all manageable. It have helped me more than anything. As a person who tries very hard not to take medication, mindfulness was the perfect answer to my prayers.
I first began my practice by using some apps. I wanted to learn how to be mindful and to see if it would work. I started by trying to meditate every morning using the calm app. I was pretty successful at first and started meditating every morning for about 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, there were times that I missed, but eventually it became a habit that I did not want to miss. I can now say that it has been life changing. Everything about it has helped me in my every day life and in my life as a teacher. I am calmer. I have learned to pause before reacting which I think is the greatest gift of meditation. I have also learned to live in the moment and enjoy the now.
One of the reasons that I believe it is so important for teachers to develop their own practice before introducing it to their students is that you must feel what mindfulness and meditation feels like before you ask your students to do it. Sitting and breathing does not automatically make you forget all of your worries. Actually, it often makes you feel a lot of things and think about a lot of things. Knowing that it may bring up emotions is important. Also, you need to have appreciation for the process. If you cannot get into it, you will not be willing to put in the work with your students. For this reason, I truly believe that mindfulness is not something that any school district should make mandatory for all teachers to incorporate into their classrooms. It must start with those who see the benefits and who respect what it is all about first. From there, it needs to be an invitation for others and not something that teachers should have to do. Otherwise it will be considered just “one more thing” to do by some educators.
Once I began to see the amazing benefits of pressing pause and mediating each day, I began to expand my own practice a bit further. I will share some more tips for starting your own practice in my next post! In the meantime, check out these great apps to start your own practice today!
Headspace App – now free for educators!