A moment of mental calmness in-between your busy school day.
How many thoughts do you think you have in just one minute? I’ve read that we have approximately 35 to 48 thoughts per minute. We think incessantly. Imagine that in just one day, we can have up to a total of 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts. These thoughts can be tallied under the categories of automatic, useless, repetitive, positive, negative, forthcoming, stressful and so on.
As teachers we are often caught rushing between classes, then to meetings and on to planning our next batch of lessons. All the while, without us even being aware of it, thoughts float and flitter around in our heads some times controlling our behaviour and our interactions with others, as well as decisions that we make.
As a mindfulness practitioner, I wondered how we might move into our meetings more purposefully to slow down just for a moment. I was looking to seek some mental clarity. In an effort to find a moment of calm just before our planning meetings, I took the initiative to try out some mindfulness strategies with the team of teachers I work with.
This was the start of the 1-minute mindfulness initiative. This provided a mental break before all meetings. Our team simply pauses together before we begin a meeting and set a timer for 60 seconds. We all sit up a little taller and take on an alert but relaxed posture. Then we just breathe until the 1-minute is over. After this 1-minute, we move right into the agenda for our meetings. My aim is to try to create the conditions for starting off meetings in a restorative way to allow everyone to come together in this simple moment of silence. I believe that just 1-minute can make this happen! It can be as simple as that, a 1-minute pause before every meeting.
In a way, it was a way for me to deliberately breathe between transitions through the day, especially at the end of day meetings. At first I led these one-minute breaks by using simple informative statements such as, ‘breathe in for 7 counts and exhale for 11’, or suggested other types of breath work. However, over time, my goal was to create a routine of 1-minute silent breaks before we began meetings ultimately removing myself as having to lead these moments. Instead, the teachers can use the 1-minute in any way they wish to ground themselves before beginning our meetings.
A few colleagues shared their thoughts after our mindful minute:
“I find that when we practice these mindfulness exercise it gives me energy and a positive perspective moving forward.”
“I really appreciate these methods and hope they continue.”
"After rushing around it is nice to settle in before the actual meetings begin. Seems like a minute is a short time, but it is enough to refocus."
Test out these simple mindful breathing minutes for yourself, your colleagues and your community.
Strive to be mindful and present. Thanks for reading.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily