In January I began a deep dive in Elena Aguilar’s Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators and the accompanying workbook. I hope to share some of my reflections as I build daily habits to strength my own resilience and support that growth in others. Aguilar outlines a habit and a disposition for each month of the year. Follow along as I reflect on each month’s key ideas.
October’s habit is Be Here Now and the disposition is Humor.
October is the time of year when teachers begin to feel the pressure. The beginning of the year routines have been established and the rigorous work has begun. Leaders are fielding parent complaints, scheduling evaluations, and completing all the paperwork that comes along. Aguilar knows the rhythm of a school year well, and she planned the habit and disposition for this month (and all of the months!) strategically. As I began to read this chapter, I needed a reminder of the value of mindfulness and I needed a kick to get back into a meditation habit.
Every time I dust off my favorite meditation app, Headspace, I enjoy it. Meditation is always time well spent, for peace of mind. I’ve tried to maintaining a morning meditation habit, but it’s not easy. This month, I’m working on building an evening meditation habit. Regardless of the time of day I do an official meditation, I also try to remind myself to stop and breath deeply a few times a day. It’s usually easy for me to remember this in my car. I spend a lot of time in my car, driving from school to school or home to work. While the traffic may stress me out, I arrive early to my destination 99.9% of the time, so I try to take a moment to take at least 3 deep breaths before I step out of my car and into the next meeting or activity.
“Practicing mindfulness is like hitting an internal pause button on the drama of life.” ~Page 127
This is so true! I recently participated in a 10 minute body scan meditation at a work meeting and when it was over I felt so incredibly calm, relaxed, and content. Whatever might have stressed me out before that meeting, I was able to into the rest of my day with such a sense of peace.
Ever since mindfulness was my word of 2015, I’ve cultivated a variety of habits to be more mindful in my life. I love Aguilar’s research on the history and benefits of mindfulness, and the links to why this is good for teachers and students too! If the people with whom you work need some reasons to bring mindfulness into schools, this chapter is full of research to share with them.
“Our emotions are contagious… Children reflect the nervous systems of adults around them.” ~Page 133
I appreciate the link Aguilar makes in this chapter between mindfulness and implicit bias. Until we are more aware of ourselves and our thoughts and actions, we cannot begin to address the implicit bias that lies within each of us. But bias is something that we need to address, especially in education, for the benefit of each student we serve.
The chapter ends on a happy note, asks us to reflect on moments of joy and humor. I love being able to pause and enjoy laughter with friends, family, or colleagues. Without the laughter, our work would be too much for any one of us to maintain alone. It’s always a good reminder to make time for the joy!
Posts in the Building Resilience series: