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As a teacher, mentally preparing students for the world is one of your most important tasks. But, how much time do you spend on mentally preparing yourself? With a million and one things to do, from grading papers to coming up with lessons plans to buying materials, finding time for you can be hard. Being pulled in so many different directions can really stress you out, so maybe it’s time to take some time for yourself and bring mindfulness into your life.
The term has been a buzzword in the last few years with companies like Google and Facebook touting mindfulness programs for their employees. What is it, though? The dictionary definition describes it as a mental state where you focus your awareness on the present while acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings and other sensations. The point is to calm your mind from zigzagging thought processes and just focus on being. Sounds easy, no? Well, it’s a lot harder than you think. People are so used to constantly being on the move and multitasking they often don’t take enough time to take care of their minds.
Mindfulness is such an important skill because it gives you the opportunity to actually understand who you are, where you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
So how do you get into mindfulness? Luckily, that is the easy part. The most common and popular method is meditation, but there are plenty of other options. Thanks to technology, there are dozens of mindfulness apps and videos to help you out. This means you can practice anywhere from a local café to the airport. Just remember to practice safety during your mindfulness activities and use a virtual private network for your various devices. There’s nothing quite like a hacker to interrupt a good mindfulness session.
Of course, you don’t need to use apps or videos to practice. You can get started with zero materials with these basic mindfulness therapy techniques:
- Meditate: You can sit, stand or even lie down. The point is to be comfortable. Once you find a good position, focus on your breathing or, perhaps, a mantra of some sort. Don’t try to push your thoughts away. Instead, acknowledge them and then move on.
- Note body sensations: Try to take notice of your body sensations. Don’t judge, simply take note and let them pass.
- Pay attention to your senses: Notice the world around you. Be alert to sights, sounds, smells, tastes and other physical sensations. Name each one by sense and then, like the other techniques, let them pass.
- Listen to your emotions: This is probably the hardest, but it’s important to take stock of what you’re feeling. Notice your emotions, give them a name and accept them. Then, allow them to leave.
As you can see, the important part of mindfulness is to take notice of the world around you on a moment-to-moment basis and then release those feelings and thoughts. That’s the hard part, though, so don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t come easy to you in the beginning. It’s easy to latch on to one emotion or experience, but the point of mindfulness is to observe what goes on in your mind and see which habits create feelings of wellness or suffering.
Connecting Mindfulness and Wellness
Besides assessing your current mood and actions, practicing mindfulness can improve your wellness. Studies show mindfulness helps ease stress, increase vigor and gives people greater resilience. By now, it’s fairly common knowledge that high levels of stress negatively impact your health. So why wouldn’t you try out something that would help reduce it from your life? And while it can’t really be studied, a lot of anecdotal evidence also points to a higher level of gratitude and happiness from those who practice mindfulness.
Besides this, practicing mindfulness can also lead to fewer poor decisions in life because you are taking the time to assess what you’re doing and to understand the potential consequences of your actions.
Practicing mindfulness isn’t easy and even those who have embraced the lifestyle probably still struggle at times. If you feel like giving up, try to imagine what you would say to a student who is struggling with something. Would you tell them to quit or would you urge them to keep trying?
Do you practice mindfulness in your life? Let us know how you incorporate into your life in the comments below!
About the author: Latoya is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. Although she still struggles to be mindful throughout the day, she tries to set aside a few minutes every hour to clear her mind and embrace the now.
Questions of the Day:
- How do you practice mindfulness?