This weekend I went to a Mindfulness and Education seminar in New York City. The auditorium was packed with the wonderful energy of teachers wanting to learn how they can bring mindfulness into their classrooms. We were treated with wonderful exercises and inspiration from leaders in the field like Linda Lantieri, Daniel Goleman, and Daniel Rechtschaffen. The bottom line: Bringing mindfulness into the classroom is easy, free, and has been proven to reduce stress and conflict, improve focus, performance, and self regulation.
I learned wonderful new exercises and concepts that I look forward to sharing with teachers and parents. One of the most important takeaways for many of us, though, is that it must start with ourselves. Research shows us that teachers skilled at regulating their emotions reported less burnout and more positive affect while teaching. Of course the same can be said of parents as well.
Here are a few tidbits from the weekend:
- Mindfulness gives kids the language and tools to calm down.
- Less multitasking allows us to go deeper into our thoughts.
- Instead of thinking about “time out”, think about “peace in”
- “The giving of love is an education in itself.” Eleanor Roosevelt
- Medication and Meditation have the same root – “to heal”.
- Crisis offers both danger and opportunity. The opportunity is in how you express your needs and the chance to grow closer as a result. Why wait for a crisis?
- Cognitive control is necessary for kindness. No calm, no kind.
- “Information consumes attention. A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Dan Goleman
- Mindfulness helps us know where we are so we can begin to handle where we are.
As I look to incorporate a mindfulness practice into my own life, I realize that, just as with exercise, it is the consistency that leads to the payoff. When I go to lift a heavy box, I know how to prepare my posture and my muscles to succeed in safely and effectively carrying the load. When stress comes into life, as it inevitably does, we must know how to prepare our minds and our souls to deal with what we must.
Resources to follow up:
CARE for Teachers is a program designed to help teachers reduce stress and enliven their teaching by promoting awareness, presence, compassion, reflection, and inspiration – the inner resources they need to help students flourish, socially, emotionally, and academically.
The Way of Mindful Education is full of resources by Daniel Rechtschaffen, one of the pioneers and leaders in the field of mindfulness and education.
The Inner Resilience Program was founded by Director Linda Lantieri in the spring of 2002 in response to the effects of the events of September 11, 2001 on New York City schools. The aim continues to be to equip school staff and parents with the skills necessary to build back their inner strength and resilience, and to model this way of being for the children in their care.
The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland has wonderful exercises for kids of all ages that you can incorporate at home and in school.