Five Reasons To Develop A Mindfulness Practice

Center for Mindful Inquiry senior teacher, Claire Stanley guests for us this month.  Claire and her CMI partner, Jack Millet will be the guiding teachers for the Mindfulness for Educators Certificate Program that will convene its first class at the end of January!  It’s not too late to apply, follow this link for more information. http://www.mindfulinquiry.org/certificate

In addition, Claire will be teaching a Mindfulness Practice for Educators elective here at AUNE this spring.  This course is open to non-AUNE students through our continuing education program.  Follow this link for more information.   http://www.antiochne.edu/academics/ce.cfm

Five reasons to develop a Mindfulness Practice

Educators live at a very busy pace of the current world of education.  Whether you are in the elementary, secondary or post-secondary sector, or whether you are an educational administrator, teacher, professor, school counselor or school principal, you no doubt feel that you do not have enough time in any single day to do what needs to be done in order to do a good job at what you do.  In the graduate school where I teach, we call it the “breathless” syndrome.  Feeling like you are jogging in place, going as fast as you can, and never catching up.  Who has time to develop a mindfulness practice in the midst of all that?  There is too much to be done and no time left to “just be.”

In response to that question, it turns out that a concept that has been around for several decades is actually true.  The idea of “working smarter” rather than “working harder” has been given a lot of lip service.  But there actually is a way to learn how to work smarter and ironically, it has a lot to do with slowing down, stopping or pausing, and taking some time each day for yourself.  Educators who engage with mindfulness practice on a regular basis – not out of guilt or fear – but out of interest and even joy, find that they have more energy and that they end up actually working smarter in the long run.

Here is a rundown of the five reasons to develop a mindfulness practice.  You have number one already, it actually helps you to do your work better and can also help you to work smarter.  How does that happen?  This first reason, at the most basic level, is physical and has to do with reducing stress.  Many studies have proven that a person who is less stressed performs any task or job with great ease at both the physical and mental level.

Second reason has to do with the joy factor that I mentioned earlier.  When there is less stress in the body and the mind, there is more energy and space.  And when there is more space, creativity has the option of entering the mind and capturing the imagination so that new ideas flow more easily so that both pre-work, during-work, and post-work time is filled with more energy and space.

You might say that is quite idealized, so if you are more of a skeptic, let’s just say when you get very stressed and out of balance (in a week, a day or an hour), a consistent meditation practice actually helps you to see more clearly.  When you can see and admit that the stress is there, then mindfulness practices help you to find a way to bring greater balance into whatever aspect of your week, day or hour that needs more support.  That is reason number three.

Reason number four is that when you move away from a place of reactivity and move toward a place of balance, you notice that your mind and body like the fact that there is a sense of choice.  Where there is a sense of choice, there is a sense of agency, and that allows you to feel like you are your own person and not one who is living at the beck and call of other forces in your life.

And the fifth – and final – reason is that a consistent mindfulness practice helps you to wake up in the midst of your life and even in the midst of your work.  When you are awake, you can see things more clearly, and based on that clear seeing, you can make choices to respond in ways that are more wise, compassionate, and in the long run, beneficial to both you and the people in your educational work world and to the people in your family or circle of friends.

As you read this, you might be saying to yourself, “I know this.  It’s nothing new.”  And I would invite you now to do it.  Try for yourself and see what happens.  Mindfulness might just make the difference that is needed for you, your work and your life.

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