What is Mindfulness?

Here are two quotes I love about Mindfulness from Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

“The real practice is living your life as if it really mattered-moment to moment”.

What is Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a practice of following the breath.  It can be done in a seated position, standing up, or lying down.  During the practice, it is normal to get lost in thought.  When this happens, you gently notice it, and return to feeling the breath once again.

What is the connection between Mindfulness and Meditation?

Meditation is the formal practice you do sitting, standing, or lying down.  Mindfulness is a way of being in your life:  grounded and aware as you move through your day and interact with your fellow human beings.

A great example I’ve heard is that Meditation is like your work-out/your training in the gym.   This practice helps you achieve Mindfulness in your daily life.

Here’s a great video explaining Mindfulness and Meditation:

Why Mindfulness is a Superpower

How do I find the time to meditate?

Start small.  1 minute or taking 10 good breaths is valuable.  Try to do it most days.  If you lapse, simply start up the practice again.  To keep your motivation going, use an app or take a class.  Find a friend, family member, or community to meditate with to help hold you accountable.

I can’t sit still.  How could I possibly meditate?

You can stand while meditating or use walking meditation. Look into movement-based practices, such as yoga, tai chi, or qi gong (chi-gong) Many fidgety, anxious people have learned how to meditate.  It is normal for the mind to wander and even run wild while meditating. It is also normal to feel restless! This is all part of the practice!

How will mindfulness and meditation help me in the classroom?  Are there mindfulness techniques I can use while I’m teaching to help me?

The mindfulness techniques that have most transformed my teaching are breathing and pausing.

I frequently try to notice and really feel my breath while teaching.   Sometimes I stop and intentionally take a few slow, deep breaths before continuing the class.

Pausing for a short moment can be a small miracle when you are getting triggered by behavior in the classroom.  Consciously pause before reacting.  “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” (Viktor Frankl)

Sometimes, I even point out to kids what I’m doing with breathing and pausing.  I say, “I’m just going to take a deep breath right now, because I’m feeling impatient.  I just need a moment before we keep going here.”  I think this is powerful role-modelling.  I’m showing the students that everyone has strong emotions and feelings, but we can all have the potential to respond wisely to challenging situations.

Also, I find that the stronger my daily meditation practice is, the more I am able to bring a state of mindfulness to my work as a teacher in the classroom with my students.

How can I begin to teach mindfulness to my students?

Start your own mindfulness practice first.

Start your own mindfulness practice first.

Start your own mindfulness practice first.

Did I mention to start your own mindfulness practice first?  🙂  I really believe in this.  It’s really hard, inauthentic, and awkward to try to teach mindfulness if you are not firmly grounded in your own practice.  Been there, done that.  Did not go well.

Think of it like this:  If you were looking for someone to teach you how to swim, would you want a really strong swimmer to teach you?  Someone who knew lots of different techniques?  Someone who could see what different students may need? Someone who could help you if you got into trouble?  Yes, to all of these questions, right?!!

Teachers who teach mindfulness to children and youth need their own practice.  After that, they need training in order to skillfully bring these techniques to students.

If you’re an educator in Rochester, Minnesota, I obviously recommend taking one of my classes offered through PD Express.  🙂

I also recommend taking Mindfulness Fundamentals with Mindful Schools and establishing a consistent practice.  Then, take Mindful Educator Essentials to learn how to teach the skills to students.

%d bloggers like this: