How Often Do You Stop?
Stop doing what you are doing right now! Take three slow and complete breaths.
Now, do it again. It takes just a minute to stop and pause.
That’s how easy the practice of mindfulness can be. When you take a moment to remind yourself that you are simply breathing in and breathing out, you start to bring more presence into these important moments in our daily lives.
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
Initially, I started to bring mindfulness into the classroom more for myself than for my students. Throughout the day, usually during transitions from one class to another, I would ask my students to pause and together we would take several slow, deep breaths as we moved our arms out and around in big wide circles.
Ultimately, I came to realize that infusing mindfulness into the classroom was not only beneficial for me but also for my students and the colleagues that I worked with. During morning routines such as ‘circle time’, we would share our ideas, energy and thoughts about what each and every student thought of mindfulness and soon our practice began to evolve. We began to practice more frequently and sometimes for longer periods of time. How happy I was to hear my students call out, “Can we practice some mindfulness now”.
It was these little moments that helped me to connect my students to the importance of the ‘pause’ and the power it plays in our lives which I was eventually able to share with those who I work with as well.
Teachers and students can take advantage of mindfulness by simply dropping into the moment with a purposeful pause. No matter how busy we are, we can certainly afford to stop for at least a minute a day to connect with our powerful human presence.
My husband and I like to listen to TED RADIO HOUR, a great podcast that draws attention to multiple themes in life that highlight major lessons that we can all learn from. Many of these episodes provide us with inspiration, motivation and excitement to do the things we love to do. As we listen to these podcasts, we often take notes in our journals and it’s these inspirational notes that provide the impetus for blogs or stories that we share with our friends. We love turning people on to Ted Radio Hour.
Todays blog post was inspired by the following episode:
Guest: David Steindl-Rast
What Does It Take To Be Grateful?
In David Steindl-Rast’s talk, he gently reminds us to recall a simple childhood lesson of how to cross the street as a method to build more mindfulness stop signs into our daily lives. He refers to it as:
“Stop, look, and go”
And the main message that he delivers is about taking deliberate time in our lives to construct opportunities to slow down to a halt, to be more aware of what happens around us, and look at every single moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s not about life being wonderful every second of the day, it’s much deeper than that. As we confront issues, situations, and moments in our daily life, we have choices. In order to best absorb what these choices are, we must stop and be aware and this is only possible by creating stop signs to bring us to a halt. And it’s only by stopping that we can begin to evaluate what the opportunities we are presented with and how to act on them.
The ‘Look’ part is about examining these moments and to ultimately make a decision about how best to move forward. Once we make these decisions, it’s about taking action and that’s what the ‘Go’ part represents in our lives.
Such a simple activity. Think about it for a moment and as you reflect on what David Steindl-Rast says, all we need to do is ‘Stop, Look, and Go.”
What messages resonate with you and your teaching in regards to his simple philosophy? How can we take the ‘Stop, Look, and Go’ idea and apply it to student learning. How can we slow down the ever increasingly busy lives of our students to help them become more aware and present. Can we help them create more stop signs in their constantly changing world? I believe that we can and strive to do so.
Always be aware of the power of pausing.
Practice creating stop signs in your own life and the lives of those who you teach.
Don’t forget to be more mindful of your breath in slowing things down.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily