Photo by Sam Kalda.
This article is part of our Mindful Mondays initiative. Learn more and receive weekly emails with instructions for the practices of the week, links to guided practices, and suggestions for implementation by registering via this link! The program is free for all. Sign up now to access this week's recorded practices for you and your students!
Since the "Mindful Revolution,"there has been a large emphasis on being mindful. But the term mindfulness can be confusing since it is so commonly used. You (and your kids) might hear things like be mindful of your surroundings, be mindful of what you say, that wasn't very mindful, and other phrases that don't quite convey the fullness of mindfulness.
Mindfulness refers to a set of practices, habits of mind, as well as a way of being in life. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who many call the father of mindfulness and created Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, explains “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally…. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
We also like the definition Dr. Amy Saltzman offers in her book, “A Still Quiet Place.” She describes mindfulness as “paying attention to your life here and now with kindness and curiosity.” We like to use that definition with students by breaking down each clause and exploring them.
In other words what does it mean to:
We find that most students (and adults) we work with like taking their time exploring each of those questions. We explore by describing what paying attention is and build up to how that act of bringing awareness with kindness and curiosity supports compassion. And by exploring the definition together, it helps to build consensus around what mindfulness is and the habit of minds one engages in when being mindful.
Little Flower Yoga explores these habits of mind by using a five element methodology. The mindfulness activities we offer our students help them CONNECT, BREATHE, MOVE, FOCUS, and RELAX. These pathways to mindfulness help us support social-emitonal learning, relationship building, learning readiness, and self awareness.
But how exactly does that support us?
Schoberlein, in her book "Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness" explains:
BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS FOR TEACHERS:
• Improves focus and awareness.
• Increases responsiveness to students’ needs.
• Promotes emotional balance.
• Supports stress management and stress reduction.
• Supports healthy relationships at work and home.
• Enhances classroom climate.
• Supports overall well-being.
• Supports “readiness to learn.”
• Promotes academic performance.
• Strengthens attention and concentration.
• Reduces anxiety before testing.
• Promotes self-reflection and self-calming.
• Improves classroom participation by supporting impulse control.
• Provides tools to reduce stress.
• Enhances social and emotional learning.
• Fosters pro-socialbehaviors and healthyrelationships.
• Supports holistic well-being.
"Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness" explains some of the ways mindfulness can support you and your students. What we hear most adults and students say is mindfulness simply helps them slow down and catch their breath, and that makes all the difference to them."
This article is part of our Mindful Mondays initiative. Receive weekly emails with instructions for the practices of the week, links to guided practices, and suggestions for implementation by registering. The program is free for all. Sign up now to access this week's recorded practices for you and your students!
ABOUT ARGOS GONZALEZ:
Argos Gonzalez is a teacher, lecturer, and mindfulness and yoga instructor. He has 13 years of experience teaching high school in the Bronx and teaches pre-service and in-service teachers at Hunter College School of Education in NY. Argos is certified through both Mindful Schools and Little Flower Yoga (LFY), and currently serves as the director of professional development for The School Yoga Project, a program of LFY.
Contact Argos by email at email@example.com.
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Working with a small organization like Little Flower Yoga has been a refreshing and powerful experience. After working in NYC schools in the Bronx for 14 years with tens of thousands of students and with hundreds of teacher colleagues in a huge bureaucracy, I can definitely say there are lots of reason why I love the simplicity of having a smaller team dedicated to one thing—to support yoga and mindfulness practices for educators and students.
And we’re doing it! Last year, we served over 9,000 students in the NYC area alone and we trained thousands of educators and clinicians around the country, who in turn support mindfulness and yoga practices in their communities! I am proud of the work we do and feel like I an fulfilling what I set out to do when I left the classroom.
Leaving the classrroom and my job as a teacher was one of the hardest choices I had to make (a pension and health benefits being a big part of it). Leaving a tenured position at a job I found fulfilling felt irresponsible but sitting in stillness and turning to my practice allowed me to dream of ways I could have a greater impact on the school system itself. I wanted to work with more educators and impact more students and I couldn’t do that in the classroom.
I feel like I’m getting the chance to do that now in a very powerful and special way. I’m extremely grateful for the privilege of meeting educators around the country and helping them start a personal practice to support the work they’re doing in their classroom. I now get the opportunity to explore alongside school leaders ways mindfulness and yoga tools can support their community.
But the question of having greater impact is still one that I think of often. One of the limitations of being part of a smaller organization is that we can’t always meet all school and community demands. We have to be creative about the way we can support our current students and past participants and all the schools and educators who reach out to us. We also want the resources to be as accessible as possible—that means we can’t take educators away from their responsibilities or take from their limited resources by asking for more of their time or to use even more of their income to pay for resources. In that vein we have developed really affordable card decks, workbooks, and webinars to support our educators and students who want to explore yoga and mindfulness.
Mindful Mondays is another ways we’re trying to support our schools.
Mindful Mondays is an initiative I helped start with the School Yoga Project to support schools worldwide in creating and sustaining a mindful culture and community. This program is a FREE resource for schools meant to foster a habit of mindfulness, grounded in simple and practical tools to encourage teachers, parents, clinicians, and students to practice mindfulness and engage in regular self-care and inquiry.
This program was designed for:
When participants sign up, they’ll receive:
Our intention for the program is to give educators the support needed to get a regular mindfulness practice established in their school, classroom, or home. We hope this will help them start the week out grounded and inspired and keep the practice alive all week until the following Monday.
If you know someone who can use the support or if you’d like to participate, please click the following link.
If you have suggestions or ideas about the Mindful Monday’s initiative or for other ideas on how the organization can support you or your school, please don’t hesitate to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and supporting you in anyway I can.
ABOUT ARGOS GONZALEZ:
Argos Gonzalez is a teacher, lecturer, and mindfulness and yoga instructor. He has 14 years of experience teaching high school in the Bronx and teaches pre-service and in-service teachers at Hunter College School of Education in NY. Argos is certified through both Mindful Schools and Little Flower Yoga (LFY), and currently serves as the director of professional development for The School Yoga Project, a program of LFY.