8 ways I practiced mindfulness this year

Here's how a middle school teacher decreased her and her students' anxiety and began to think more positively

Mindfulness has become a buzzword in schools over the past few years. Many schools have hired mindfulness professionals to work with their students and faculty. According to scientist and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

As the daughter of two developmental psychologists, I was introduced early to the concept of being mindful, though I am not proficient at being mindful in my own life. After 19 years of teaching adolescents and then having children of my own, I have become more aware of the importance of mindfulness. I decided to spend time throughout the year improving my mindful skills. My goal was to decrease anxiety in myself, my students, and my children. I also hoped to create a space where I was thinking more positively.

1. I dropped all social media for the summer
With my mindfulness mission in mind, I decided to try out life without social media for the summer. This meant getting at least an hour or two back every day (100+ hours total for the months of July and August).

To be honest, the first week was a little more difficult than I expected. I tried to meditate during the time that I had been wasting scrolling through random pictures, but I found it difficult to concentrate. I started reading instead and was able to burn through a few books in just two weeks.

Being free of social media proved to be just that: freeing. While I did return to some social media this month, I decided to not add the apps back on my phone. Having to go onto my laptop to check social media will most definitely decrease the amount of time I spend scrolling, which I hope will leave more time for my mindfulness practice.

2. I did some mindfulness training at work
Last year, I obtained a grant and brought a mindfulness consultant to our district. The training, from MindWise, was a huge hit with the 20 teachers who participated, and it helped to start a mindfulness movement in the Burlington (MA) Public Schools! The presentations were so dynamic and truly got me thinking about mindfulness as an important movement to improve the lives of everyone in my community

3. I went to Kripalu
I have never been into yoga or meditation, but when I turned 40 I wanted to go somewhere to learn how to relax. A friend recommended Kripalu, an all-inclusive retreat center in western Mass. You stay in a modest room (shared or single), hike around the beautiful grounds, and attend as many yoga and meditation classes as you want. I took the “I’m on vacation” approach, sleeping in and attending an afternoon yoga class and an evening meditation each day.

Never in my life have I felt at chill as I felt after three days at Kripalu. That feeling vanished immediately upon returning home, so I knew I’d have to do more to hold onto that incredible feeling.

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