As I begin the new school year, I'm been thinking about many things while setting up the classroom. I’m getting ready to meet a whole new batch of Pre-K students, and both little details and larger questions are entering my mind:
What color should I use for this bulletin board? How do I get back that feeling of peace I felt during my summer vacation that now feels lost? How do I spell his name again? What would I like the parents' first impressions to be of me? How can I radiate on the outside what I want on the inside? What am I going to wear on the first day?
My most recent concern after a summer of not interacting much with children is, how can I switch on my "teacher speak"? As educators, we know that the way we speak to children is its own language. It's a skill and it takes constant practice. Moreover, In order to teach children effectively, I know that I need to first think about what I want to say and then figure out how to best deliver my message. I must be aware my tone of voice, controlling what comes out of my mouth, and thinking about the purpose and intention behind my words.
My students will be making new friends this year. One of the first discussions I like to have with them touches on appropriate language to use with their friends. I talk to my students about how words can leave lasting impressions on others. I teach them that they have the power to help someone with their words or hurt someone with their words. That hurtful words can make someone feel very sad all day, but kind words can make someone feel very happy all day. It's so important to stop and think about what you want to say before you say it.
As I was reflecting on how to use language with my students today, I thought, "I’m teaching my students how to speak to each other, but have I taught me to speak to myself?" Our inner thoughts run through our minds all day. Not often do we take the time to stop and think about how our inner dialogue creates a perception of ourselves and the world around us. Perhaps I can pretend that I am starting a new school year with myself, and as I watch my students make new friends by using kind gestures and words, perhaps I need to make an effort to befriend myself.
Here are some questions I’d like to start asking myself during the new school year:
I invite all of you to reflect on the way you speak to yourselves each day. The start of the new school year may be a great time to invite your self-talk to be altered. I wrote the song, “Hugging Words,” to help children be more aware of the language they use toward others.
Check out Lianne's CD. It's an amazing album for all children and especially when offering lessons in mindfulness. Lianne's album recently won a NAPPA Award -- Congratulations Lianne!
the Little Flower Yoga Team
I wrote the song, “Be Still,” after meditating one day. My mind felt crystal clear and at that moment it was so obvious that being still means being free.
Not every meditation session goes as smoothly for me. It’s easy to be still when everything around you is quiet and slow. When you have no distractions and you’re in the right frame of mind and feeling settled, clarity and stillness will come easily. In these moments, my mind feels like it’s a soaring bird against a beautiful blue sky, aware of its surroundings and seeing what’s below - but only observing it. Breathing it in, breathing it out. Free.
But realistically, this isn’t my frame of mind during every meditation session. Some days when I begin the practice, my mind is a hurricane of swirling and whirling thoughts, fuzzy vision, terrifying winds and unrealistic catastrophizing. On these days, being still feels almost impossible. My mind is like being in a thunderstorm; I struggle to see what’s in front of me, I’m afraid of my surroundings, and I feel like I can’t breathe. I’m trapped.
But as I’ve continued to meditate, I have realized that practicing being still on those sunny days when I feel like a soaring bird helps me escape the rainy days faster.
This realization has motivated me to incorporate breathing and stillness into my classroom on a daily basis. If I’ve learned one thing as a teacher, it’s that children’s emotions and moods change rapidly. In one moment everything is fine, but in the next moment their world is crumbling. I try to practice being still with my students when their mood is calm, so that when they do come across challenges, they can access their “being still” state of mind.
The more we practice stillness, the more accessible it becomes. We start to feel like it’s ours to take. I hope that “Be Still” can remind all of us to feel this freedom during our meditation sessions, and to be able to access it not only when life is a beautiful sunny day, but also when it’s hard and scary and full of wind and rain.
And we are excited to mention that Lianne's CD is now available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and on my Bandcamp Page!