Now that mindfulness has become a ubiquitous buzz word, let’s break it down.
Mindfulness is intentionally directing your awareness.
Where your awareness goes, your energy goes.
Your awareness is how you vote in this life; it’s how you spend your precious, limited energy.
Yes to this. No to that.
You become more of whatever it is that you focus on. If I focus on my resentment, it grows. If I focus on my gratitude, it grows.
How’s that working out for you?
Are the things you’re voting for with your attention helping you get more peaceful and less anxious? Or are you building up the stress in your life with your “mindful” attention to the irritant?
That may seem like an odd question in the middle of a global pandemic, social unrest, racial inequities, economic fragility, school uncertainty, and all the other mind blowing upheaval around us.
But hear me out.
Being intentional with how you direct your awareness will make all the difference with how you emotionally and energetically handle this new school year.
Why not begin a practice of mindfulness now?
We can find inner tranquility despite what’s going on externally. And it might be because of what’s going on externally that we are driven internally to find new ways to comfort and self regulate within our skin.
Because we are perfectly imperfect, we stumble and fall. A lot. Yet we also rise from our falls.
If we pay attention to what went down (when we fell from grace) we are wiser and more equipped to handle the oncoming unknown.
What better time to build resilience than now? What better time to find out how strong you are? How lovely you are?
Mindfulness brings us into the present moment where we can access all that good stuff and more.
It takes practice… like building up your biceps with weights. At first, it seems impossible that the flaccid formations on your arms will ever amount to anything in this life. All of sudden, you look down and greet your new rock solid helpers. You got biceps! It’s kinda like that.
You don’t expect your students to be perfect. Give yourself grace to stumble in order to grow. You don’t need to have to be perfect at practicing mindfulness before the first day of school.
Here’s three simple ways to intentionally pay attention and increase your ability to focus.
Set a timer to play a pleasant sound a few times a day.
When you hear it, pause and breathe in and out, noticing the air coming in cool on the intake and warm on the outbreath. Feel your breath fill your chest, then your belly, feel it down to your toes, and then release it slowly out of your body. Close your eyes if that feels good.
Do it again.
And do it once more.
Try to be aware of your breath in between pauses.
Yup… the goal is to be mindfully aware of your breath as much as possible to connect your body to your consciousness. Your breath becomes the bridge from outer chaos to inner calm.
2. Taste your food
Become aware of each bite, not just the first one. Challenge yourself to do this.
We zone out pretty quickly when eating so it’s not as easy as it sounds. Just finished my lunch and can’t remember much past the third bite. Chew on that. Darn it! When’s dinner?
3. Listen on Purpose.
Listen to whoever is speaking without thinking about what you want to say next, or what their words remind you of in your own life.
If your mind wanders, bring your focus back to their words. Pay total attention to them.
This develops empathy and self regulation, and deepens friendships faster than owning a swimming pool in a heat wave. It’s a selfless act of kindness to listen on purpose.
Mindfulness plays a central role in the SocialEyes Together® SEL curriculum.
When you teach and practice mindful techniques with your students, everyone becomes more focused, self-regulated, heart centered, and present. To learn more about the curriculum and how to order, click here!