Heading 1NDMTSS Conference
Teachers have always needed to know and practice protective strategies in their social emotional first aid kits to manage the daily stressors of working on the front lines of a human-service oriented profession. That need has never been greater given the massive increase in uncertainty and unpredictability in the teaching profession and in one's personal life due to COVID.
In short, teaching is emotional labor-- the effort required to manage and metabolize strong emotions like anger, shame, guilt, anxiety, and overwhelm, as well as generate and stoke positive emotions like joy, hope, and compassion.
Stress significantly diminishes a teacher's capacity to regulate their negative emotions and cultivate positive emotions. Ironically, teachers who leave the profession often cite their inability to cope with their own emotional reactions to loss of control, unpredictability, and lack of purpose in their teaching as the primary reason for burnout.
There are many, many strategies and practices rooted in cognitive and affective neuroscience and social and behavioral sciences that teachers can learn, practice, and integrate into their personal and professional lives as teachers to metabolize stress, manage negative energy, protect themselves from the burnout cycle, and find joy in teaching the whole year through!
In this session, teachers will:
Explore the core elements of the teacher burnout cycle and learn how to protect one's self from the 2 paths to burning out,
Top 3 Meditation Myths
Myth #1: Meditation is about stopping thinking.
If anyone figures out how to do this or where thoughts come from so we can stop them, let us know! This is one the biggest myths of meditation. Meditation is about simply watching the mind. Trust us. Your's is fascinating! And so very powerful. Meditation is about simply sitting (or walking, running, lying, standing, even bathing) with the self and observing what the state-of-the-inner-state is. It is self-awareness in action. Meditation is observation; not jedi mind tricks to control, contort, or suppress the natural tendencies of your mind.
As teachers, we must be master observers. There is so much going on in our classrooms, in our students, and in our inner-worlds that we must condition ourselves to tune in and observe with as little reaction or judgment as possible. This clear seeing of the self, others, and the workings of your classroom will make you more effective in your interactions with students and classroom management, and you'll stop talking everything so personally (*which is so emotionally exhausting!).
Myth #2: I wasn't born with the meditation gene.
Jon Kabat-Zinn (1994) says,"thinking you are unable to meditate is a little like thinking you are unable to breathe, or to concentrate or relax." Meditation is a natural, inborn human capacity for awareness. Meditation is a fancy way of saying paying attention with awareness that you are paying attention. As a human being, you have an innate ability to be aware of what you are doing while you are doing it (if you so choose). Engaging awareness is intentional, and you can call upon it whenever you'd like.
Meditation need not be long to be effective-- it just needs to be intentional. Try it now. Take a nice long, slow inhale, feel the breath come in.......and now slow exhale, feel the breath go out. Boom. You just "meditated."
As teachers, we must be aware. Imagine an individual stepping into a classroom setting with an atrophied capacity of awareness-- awareness of others, awareness if situation, awareness of self. Ugh. Chaos! When you carve out 1 minute in your car to take 10 aware breaths before you walk into school or 15 minutes to listen to a guided mindfulness meditation like you find on our site, you are refining your capacity for acute awareness. (Students.... be afraid!) Oh, and the cool side-effect, you calm down and feel awesome!
Myth #3: I don't have time to meditate.
Here's the amazing thing about intentionally cultivating your powers of observation and awareness. You can turn these powers onto observing and being aware of your mind. You start to see where that inner roommate attempts to undermine you without your awareness. The "I don't have time to meditate" is the biggest mind trap of them all. See, there is part of you that will always resist something new, being happy, or being more effectives. Crazy. I know. We get in our own way all the time. Not having time or not wanting to sit silently in lotus style for 45 minutes are common mental phantoms that will keep you away from reaping the neurological, psychological, and physiological benefits of "meditation."
And remember, anything can be a meditation. Eating a piece of chocolate, sipping a Guinness, walking the dog, washing the dishes, taking a shower...if you are intentional about being fully there, feeling it all, being engaged with all your senses, you are meditating.
As teachers, we must be vigilant for when our minds attempt to undermine our emotional, physical, and soul health. Begin to intentionally integrate a couple mindful breaths or meditations in your daily/ weekly schedule and then wait for the voice in your head to say, "you really don't have time to take time for yourself today to just be, take a break, and actually enjoy life. Don't you know how much you have to do? Just do this one more little thing....not that meditation thing...this other thing that feels way more important than your mental and emotional health." It will say something like this daily. Expect it. Smile at the thought when it arises. And then do the opposite-- take 25 breaths, go for a walk and feel your feed on the ground, listen to a 3 minute pick-me-up meditation...anything to break the mind cycle that keeps you running yourself ragged.