For me, movement and mindfulness go together. They speak to the essence of being human, which is how we come into relationship with and respond to what arises in the dynamic, metabolic flow of energy that is our inner and outer lives. How we dance with our own life-force defines who we are. It is the template for how we show up and what we teach.
I’ve spent the last 20 years bringing the same movement and mindfulness practices to education that I use in my own life. I teach them because I believe they are essential tools for self-realization and lay the foundation for embodied wisdom. They are the structures that slowed me down and shifted me into a new paradigm of possibility. They plugged me into a much greater field of awareness and intelligence in which kindness, compassion, and differentiation replaced force, judgment, and projection. I stopped believing all the thoughts in my head and started to see how I could focus my thinking and process my feelings instead. I came to understand the power of meditation, yoga, and self-inquiry to relieve my own suffering and to empower me to take ever greater responsibility for my behavior and happiness.
This is an on-going process. My life keeps moving. I continue to practice because I know that I teach from who I am being.
The same is true for you, for everyone. Whatever subject matter you teach, what matters most is who you are being. You hold the space. Your mind-body state sets the tone. The younger the students, the more they entrain to you. Your values and principles are the invisible operating system influencing how everyone feels and learns in your classroom. Yes, it’s a big responsibility and one that behooves working on oneself.
I meditate every day. It resets my nervous system and cultivates presence. It keeps me honest and in touch with deeper feelings, which translates to being more clear, sensitive, and responsive with others. I can see and hear what is really going on out there, because I’ve practiced sitting with what goes on in here.
I encourage you read the article, Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers, by teacher, Patricia Jennings, who also wrote, Mindfulness for Teachers.
Or learn about Loving Kindness meditation as taught by Sharon Salzberg, who wrote:
Mindfulness helps relieve anxiety and can give us a real sense of connection and fulfillment, as well as insight and understanding. The idea is, by developing a different relationship with our experience, we get to see it differently. If an emotion comes up, and we start fighting it, there’s not a lot of learning going on. If we fall into it and become overwhelmed, there’s not a lot of learning going on. Mindfulness helps us develop a different, kinder relationship with ourselves, to see much more deeply into all of our experience.
I fuel myself with activities and people that I enjoy. I do something every day to feel blessed and grateful. And if it’s been a rough day, I won’t go to bed miserable. I’ll call a friend, I’ll re-read a card, I’ll watch a favorite movie, I’ll journal. Positive emotions fill our inner tank with vitality and resilience. They boost our immune systems and can transform thinking. Play is just as important for you as it is for the children you teach. Do you make time to play? Could you take a more playful approach to your daily activities?
I recommend you explore what makes you happy and do more of it. If that sounds silly or you don’t have time, check out this online course in the Science of Happiness, which I completed last year. It is full research that will motivate you to generate more gratitude and joy for yourself! It will engage you in valuable self-inquiry and offer you a wide range of practices to play with.
I cultivate self-compassion. It helps me feel my innate value and recognize the sacred journey of every life. It cultivates humility and respect for others’ struggles and leaves me being kind by default, not to be nice.
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion is a skill that can be learned by anyone. It involves generating feelings of kindness and care toward ourselves as imperfect human beings, and learning to be present with greater ease during life’s inevitable struggles. It is an antidote to harsh self-criticism, making us feel connected to others when we suffer, rather than feeling isolated and alienated. Unlike self-esteem, the good feelings of self-compassion do not depend on being special and better than other people; instead, they come from caring about ourselves and embracing our commonalities.
Self-compassion is not self-pity, self-absorption, or self-indulgence. It is simply a mindset of caring and curiosity for our own process, which helps us develop the inner resources to be able to care about and serve others. The Dali Lama’s translator in many books, Thupten Jinpa, describes it as: the instinctive ability to be kind and considerate to yourself – the put on your oxygen mask first before helping others’ approach to self-care – which makes a big difference when you are dealing with the demands of raising children, dealing with a difficult boss, or facing a relationship crisis.
These are 3 practices that work for me (there are more to come :). They help me self-regulate, be mindful, and feel playful with whatever arises. If you know it’s time to up your self-care in order to be the mindful, responsive teacher / person you’d like to be more often, I would be happy to support you with some ideas, suggestions, and coaching. Just email me and we will schedule a call. If there are many of you, we can schedule a conference call.
Look forward to connecting!
Leah @ move-with-me.com