The education system is finally realising that it needs to look after its staff, hooray! 'Well-being', 'mindfulness', 'resilience', 'growth mindset' and other such buzzwords are popping up in educational talks and articles everywhere.
With so many teachers leaving & taking time off sick it can't come too soon. However I have heard teachers saying things like 'oh no, something else for us to do!' and I totally get that. We live in an age where were receive more information in a day than someone living in the 17th century would their whole life.
Then there's the problem with the quality of teaching. There is no set standard so it can be hit and miss. For example there is an organisation that trains 'mindfulness teachers' which only requires a minimum of 2 years' experience. So you could join a class or get someone into your school, with all the best intentions, and they would be ineffective at best or end up doing more harm than good at worst. Practising mindfulness has been proved scientifically to be beneficial to one's physical as well as mental health so it could be natural to assume because it is simple in nature it is easy to teach.
Herein lies the problem. The road to enlightenment is not all nice and fluffy. As soon as you become a serious practitioner off come the layers - it has been likened to peeling and onion, tears and all. As you get to really know yourself all that stuff from the past you thought you'd dealt with can pop up any time, and usually again and again with deeper insight each time. So this is why it is important to have a teacher who has that depth of practice.
Mindfulness takes courage, you have to be prepared to face your demons and sit with them. There is more to it than counting breaths and eating raisins. Those are great practices in themselves but as you go deeper with the practice more demons will reveal themselves. The benefits of doing this though are huge. Life doesn't necessarily get any easier, stuff happens but the way you view difficulties will change.
So for today's exercise start noticing how you distract yourself when things get uncomfortable. A big one for many teachers seems to be Twitter for example or maybe you reach for the biscuits or (as in my case) crisps or alcohol or TV. Can you sit with the discomfort even if it's just a few minutes? Notice what you are thinking. What are you craving and what are you avoiding? Do this with kindness and humour. If you are finding it really difficult then reach out for help, no one has to do this alone.
If you are able repeat this several times a week and over time you will become more aware of your habits and what you do to relieve tension. Then you can make more skilful choices. So, for example, instead of having a glass of wine before bed you may opt for a cup of camomile tea, instead of watching the news you will choose to listen to music or instead of getting caught up in an argument on Twitter you may choose to go out for a coffee with a friend.
I have been practising mindfulness meditation for 10 years now. You don't always notice the benefits immediately but one day you will look back and realise how far you have come.
For more information about how Helen can help your school please contact us today.