Being a teenager can be such a difficult time. As a person that observes teenagers both in my personal and professional life, I have seen them struggle with out of control emotions, changing bodies that can cause physical pain or discomfort, negative self-talk, and a general inability to focus on what is important. Why not give them the tool to help them deal with these changes: mindfulness.
Some Personal Reflections on a Year of Mindfulness
Looking back on where I was a year ago, I no longer feel like my emotions are in control. When faced with difficult emotions, I am able to notice them and respond with kindness, rather than react in ways that are regrettable later. I feel like I am more compassionate and understanding in my interactions with others. I judge myself less harshly and feel more at peace. When I get too busy and begin ignoring my practice in favor of the never-ending to do list, I begin to go back to old patterns of behavior. I notice that it is happening and I rededicate myself to making time for my daily dose of mindfulness meditation. My hope is that in the year ahead I will do less of this and stick with the practice.
Wishing you peace and contentment in the new year,
I want to practice mindfulness... but I Have No Training For That
I have read numerous books on the topic of mindfulness. I have read blog posts, scientific studies, watched videos, and have had a small amount of staff development on the topic of mindfulness. While I have spent a fair amount of time over the last few years studying mindfulness informally, the real "training" has been my daily practice with my students.
I want to try Mindfulness with my students... but There's No Time
You Don't have to be able to lead a guided meditation
SOme FInal Thoughts:
- Mindfulness is not a magic lesson that can be taught once a week and change the environment of your school or classroom, but when practiced regularly mindfulness can be a game changer for both teacher and students.
- If the teacher doesn't "buy-in" to the practice, it will be less effective. What message are you sending to students if you busy yourself with paperwork and emails while someone else teaches them about mindfulness? If you don't "buy-in" to the practice, how can you expect your students to do so?
- It is a practice, which means you need to work on it daily. If your school wants to implement a program that teaches mindfulness, time must be dedicated to the practice every day.
- Some Advice on Advisory
- Attendance Awareness: Are You Present
- #MarchMindfulness: A Series of Five Posts on Mindfulness
Professional Development: Want to learn more about Mindfulness?
- EQ Schools: visit their website to find a conference near you
- Mindful Schools: Conferences, online resources and professional reading
- CARE: Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education
Reading: For those who cannot afford to attend conferences, or if there aren’t any organizations near you that offer these opportunities for professional learning, there is much to be learned through reading. I have never attended a conference myself, but have read/listened to at least ten different books on mindfulness. A few that I would recommend:
- Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
- The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
- The Way of Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-Being in Teachers and Students
- Mindful Living: A Collection of Teachings on Love, Mindfulness, and Meditation (my personal favorite) I recommend signing up for audible.com and listening to this book. With Audible you get discounted prices on audiobooks in addition to a free book once a month. There are many titles on the topic of mindfulness. You may also want to look into “The Great Courses” on Audible, there are several on Mindfulness. I have listened to two of them myself and have found them to be informative.
- The Zen Teacher
- Mindfulness Blog
Use these discussion starters to assist your students in having conversations about topics related to mindfulness. There are 18 different discussion questions with topics that relate to gratitude, self care, cultivating awareness, positive/negative self talk, dealing with stress and strong emotions, and acceptance. It's a great activity for a class that has been introduced to, and is beginning to practice mindfulness skills as it encourages reflection and mindful listening.