More Mindful Maples

Posted on November 28, 2015

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Mill Lake and Blue Sky

On 14 November, I attended a Professional Development workshop called Mindfulness for Educators, facilitated by Caryn Wells, Associate Professor at Oakland University, Rochester, MI. It was a real game-changer for me.

I have known the benefits of mindfulness for decades, since I began practicing in the late 1980s, following the teachings of Alan Watts, who I discovered as a result of my interest in Beat writers. My practice was renewed and rejuvenated after a car accident in 1991, when I discovered Thich Naht Hahn’s book, Peace Is Every Step, and I adopted the “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment” mantra as my own. I write about that here. As I write in that narrative, I have shared this mantra with family, friends, colleagues, and students for decades, but I have rarely shared mindfulness practices with my others, especially students, for fear of offending someone’s religious sensibilities. Now, as a result of the Mindfulness for Educators workshop, I see how I can finally share these teachings with students, bringing more peace into the classroom and more focused attention and relaxation into the community–in a way that works for all people.

The workshop at OU included several mindfulness practice sessions and introductions to many mindfulness tools and resources. One tool I downloaded immediately is a mindfulness bell app for my phone, so that I can have the beautiful tone of a Tibetan Singing Bowl whenever/wherever I want to have a mindful moment. I love it and use it often, such as the moment before I gave a presentation at National Council of Teachers of English in Minneapolis. Just hearing the tone allows me to feel grounded, centered, and relaxed.

Another tool that I love is this website, Mindfulness For Teens, because it provides visitors with these simple mindfulness exercises that can be used in the classroom AND given to students to download on their own devices, so that once they’ve been introduced to mindfulness practices, they are empowered to practice on their own, whenever they want.

In a world where students are under more stress, at younger and younger ages, than ever before, I want to be the teacher who empowers students to maintain their health and well-being, now and throughout their lifetimes. As one who suffers from chronic pain due to spinal issues, I know how mindfulness has transformed my life and health. Mindfulness is a crucial part of maintaining peace and balance in my life. I am excited to share these powerful practices with my students. As we begin the second trimester, we will do so mindfully. I will be mindful of the process as well, observing and recording as a teacher researcher, so that I can write about what I discover when I ask, “What happens when students practice mindfulness in the ELA classroom?”

I look forward to helping my students find relief from stress through mindfulness practices, like these children did in this amazing video. I am so glad I “gave up” some time and money on a Saturday to attend the Mindfulness for Educators workshop, and I predict that, after I implement these practices in my classroom, my students will be as well.

“To be mindful entails examining the path we are traveling & making choices that alleviate suffering & bring happiness to ourselves & those around us.” ― Allan Lokos, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living

 

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