I have always been a person who believes in walking your talk so if I was really going to embrace teaching mindfulness then I had to fully embrace doing mindfulness. Two weeks ago I began a course on mindfulness fundamentals through mindfulschools.org. This has been an eye opening experience. Mindful practice takes A LOT of practice but the rewards are exponential. It is not easy to sit for five minutes trying to rid yourself of thought and just be. However, what I have learned is to not judge myself when thoughts do enter and to be gentle with myself. In my work with both students and staff I think we are innately hard on ourselves, often not even being realistic or fair. I am learning to be a little less harsh with myself and I am realizing that if this is difficult for a 40+ year old woman then it is going to be a challenge for a teenager. I am starting to understand the importance of not just leading students and/or staff through mindfulness exercises but coaching them to a higher level of experience.
In this fast paced world that has every distraction from one’s reality available it is no wonder that we are dealing with an increase in depression, drug addiction, and suicide attempts. People are often avoiding their feelings for as long as possible and when they can’t avoid any longer they do not have the coping mechanisms to deal with them. What if we equipped people with healthy coping strategies? Viktor Frankl is credited for saying, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Practicing mindfulness helps us grow that space. It can help one to better realize what they are feeling, name it, and learn to understand the emotion rather than the emotion controlling oneself.
I have set two goals for myself over the next month. The first is to make time to practice mindfulness each day formally for at least five minutes. Secondly, I want to increase my ability to be informally mindful whether that is while I am walking down the school hallway or doing a daily task like brushing my teeth. I desire to better understand the challenges of mindfulness in order to authentically coach others. I will keep you up to date on how it goes!