By Teachers, For Teachers
Meditation and mindfulness have been in the forefront for a few years now. Psychologists have found that mind-body exercises like meditation can help ease stress and boost confidence.
Teaching is a profession that can really take a toll on a person. Current research has found that a teacher’s stress levels are soaring because of increased workload, curriculum reform, and students’ behavior. These stressors can be harmful to a teacher’s health. Psychologists agree that by performing a few simple mindful mediation exercises as part of your classroom management regimen throughout the school day can help combat stress levels. Here are two simple classroom management ways to incorporate mindful mediation into your everyday life.
Buddhists have practiced mindfulness and meditation for thousands of years, then yogis adapted it into their daily routine. Today, teachers and other like-minded professionals are reaping the benefits as well. There have been many studies that show the impact of mindfulness on teachers. This one from the Australian Journal of Teacher Education shows that it helps teachers feel less stress and less teacher-burnout. It also enhances a teacher’s ability to concentrate and focus on their schoolwork. It also enhances their job performance and improves their overall health so they will use less sick days. With all of these amazing benefits, it’s no wonder why so many teachers are integrating it into their daily routine.
So what exactly is mindful mediation? Mindfulness is about focusing on being in the moment, where meditation involves controlling your attention. Mindful mediation is ultimately controlling where your mind goes. For example, you can choose to pay attention to a specific sound or your breath. Many people have a hard time with this because their minds easily wander, and the goal is to bring it back to the present moment. Once you get the hang of it (which is something that you will develop over a period of time), you can reap the benefits, and you’ll find you will have less anxiety and stress in your life. Here are two simple exercises to get you started.
Using your breath is the first place that most people start when they are learning how to meditate. You can do this in the morning in your home, before you get to school in your car, or in your classroom before you welcome the students. To begin, you must sit comfortably with your eyes closed. It doesn’t really matter where you sit, as long as you are comfortable. Direct your attention to your breath. Listen as you inhale and exhale. If you find that your mind begins to wander, then start counting your breaths every time you inhale and exhale, this will help you stay focused. Every time you feel yourself getting distracted, bring your attention back to your breath. You can do this exercise as long as you feel necessary. This is a practice that you can do anywhere and at any time, just as long as you are in a quiet place where you know you won’t be interrupted.
The school day can be quite hectic and you will need to find a moment throughout your busy day to unwind and just take a moment for yourself. Think of a time during your day that can help signal you to take a moment for yourself: The bell before lunch, the afternoon announcements, or in-between classes. Let this signal be your sign to take a few minutes to just focus your attention on the present moment. In this moment, take a few deep breaths and allow your mind to focus on your body and see where you are having some built up tension. Take a few more breaths and let this tension go. Set an intention for the rest of your day. It can be something like, “I can do this” or “I am going to stay in the present moment today.” Whatever bit of encouragement that you give yourself will help you carry it with you the rest of the day.
Controlling your thoughts and being in the present moment is hard. It will take a lot of practice, but the research on mindful meditation and its benefits are worth the work. Once you learn these tools they are something that you can carry with you forever. You will now be able to easily calm yourself down in any situation that may occur.
Did you find these simple exercises useful? What kind of mindful meditation do you practice in your daily life? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear them.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.