Rather than being "one more thing you have to DO" meditation offers us a way to BE in relationship with ourselves.
"I don't have time"
"I can't do one more thing."
"I'm too busy to reduce my stress."
"The thought of doing nothing gives me anxiety."
As a mindfulness teacher, I hear these things all the time. And it is totally understandable! We live in a society that encourages multi-tasking, sends us constant messages that we need to do more, be better, improve ourselves, and live up to high expectations, all in the midst of ever-increasing stress, pressure, anxiety, depression, suicidality, and the growing political and environmental crises that dominate the media.
But remember this: the heart pumps blood to itself first. You cannot show up in life ready to pour out energy to others and to all that should be done if you yourself are empty, exhausted, emotionally fried. You can't pour from an empty cup.
Again and again the research show us that teachers who have the calmest classrooms are those who care for themselves first. Those who are able to manage heavy workloads and high levels of acute stress are able to do so because they have developed strong coping skills and the ability to regulate their nervous systems. The best teachers are the ones who are grounded in the ability to remain non-reactive in the face of extreme stress and can honor each of their students as unique and human beings. Having a calm and regulated classroom has less to do with teaching mindfulness to kids, and more to do with practicing attunement and modeling moment-to-moment non-reactive awareness.
So teachers, I know you are busy, but practicing mindfulness or meditation are not one more thing you have to do. It is a way you get to be. This little bit of time that you spend tending to the inner life, can have the effect of allowing you to show up in a more conscious way throughout the day. It is how you show up in your classroom that determines so much of how your class will respond to you.
Whoever we are, whatever our story, mindfulness invites us into acceptance of what is, allows us to honor our past and our suffering by acknowledging what is already present. If we can hold our experience with compassion, and let go of the notion that any of us needs to change ourselves to become a "better person", we can meet ourselves where we already are. Despite the chaos and upheaval in the modern world, mindfulness gives us a way to always come home.
-Cindy Garner, Executive Director
Collaborative Partner Spotlight:
The Rocky Mountain Mindfulness Center is so thrilled to welcome The Holistic Life Foundation to our collaborative partner network, and to include Andres Gonzalez in our Advisory Council. Please check out the incredible work happening within this organization, and consider making a gift to HLF to support the mindfulness in education movement.
Heartfulness Practice: Compassion in action
Find a comfortable seated position, and make sure you won't be disturbed for the next 20 minutes. This practice is a great way to tend to yourself in moments of relationship or social distress, or when the troubles of the world around you become overwhelming.
Cindy Garner, MFA, RP, is the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Mindfulness Center. She is a licensed Colorado Educator, Qualified MBSR teacher, and has a passion for helping people manage stress and learn improve their relationships to themselves.