Magic Moments – in Schools

Over the last couple of years, the school district I worked for started encouraging teachers to integrate mindfulness exercises into the school day. We were given a slim book about SEL practices and occasionally consultants would breeze in to share wisdom with us and depart for a few more months before we’d see them again. The very few colleagues and I who signed up for this endeavor would joke that Miss S from the big city would be falling from heaven on these days. The consultant was a wonderful person with an important mission, but the program was very much out of synch with our needs as middle school classroom teachers who aren’t experts in mindfulness and meditation.

Today’s meditation has me thinking back to that situation and why it was so frustrating. We were trying so hard to have our students engage in these mindfulness exercises without seeing even a little bit of the bigger picture of what it was all about. My students would have benefitted much more from someone who could explain what the practice has to do with moments you aren’t meditating or engaged in a mindful practice. It’s all about letting these skills creep back in later in your day when things are falling apart.

For me, it is pretty easy to be gentle with myself during a meditation when I notice my distraction. My mind drifts, no big deal. I pull my attention in and refocus the way a fisherman reels in the line and casts again. It’s just part of what I’m doing. But away from the guided meditation, my mind and that inner voice are totally different when I’m failing at something or an experience isn’t going the way I expect. When my inner voice is criticizing me, feeling that I’m no good, will never get it, will never be better, that’s when this meditation we did today helps. That’s when I have to practice changing the script that my mind likes to play. Instead of thinking the worst of myself, I have to see it as the exact time there’s a chance to make a change and grow. Big growth comes from a lot of little moments that we accept the challenges that life is offering us. And when we’re working with kids, that’s the part of the story they need to hear: how  we take the lessons of meditation into the day and make them a part of the tools we use to navigate this crazy world.

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