Mindfulness — a set of skills that helps us be more present, calm, and focused —
can be a catalyst for social and emotional development and professional growth
for educators. Here, Metta Karuna McGarvey, an expert on mindfulness, presents
five simple steps that any educator can take to increase wellbeing, navigate
challenges, and cultivate inner strengths.
1. Build focus
“For many of us, constant demands are deeply
fatiguing and frustrating, making it hard to stay
organized and get things done,” McGarvey says. To
develop our ability to focus, McGarvey recommends
taking one or two minutes several times a day to
step away from our devices and get fully present.
“Stretch, step outside, look out the window,
concentrate on your breath — do just one thing,
but do it with 100 percent of your attention.”
2. Slow down
“This goes with building focus,” McGarvey says.
“Take 10 or 15 minutes each day to just be.
Meditate, do yoga, walk, make a cup of tea, take a
hot bath, play with your kids or pet, or just sit and
notice the beauty around you.”
3. Take care of your body
“We all know it’s important, but many of us let this
slide when busy. Adequate sleep is essential, as is
limiting unhealthy food, caffeine, and alcohol, and
eating fresh, well-prepared foods,” she says. These
take discipline and time, but the benefits in energy
and clarity are significant. Keep at it, urges McGarvey.
“It takes a few months for your body to recover from
poor habits and not enough sleep,” she says. “And for
many, exercise only becomes pleasurable after doing
it regularly for three to four months.”
4. Maintain perspective and lighten up
Keep difficulties in perspective when things get grim
by remembering to look for the good, strive for
a light touch, or find an alternate perspective.
Looking for the humorous side that accompanies
many challenges can be helpful. “But there is an
important balance here,” McGarvey says. “Poking
fun at our own shortcomings can be a great stress
buster, but remember not to poke fun or make
jokes at the expense of others.”
5. Express gratitude
“Each night before you fall asleep, contemplate
three good things about your day or your life,”
McGarvey says. Savor each one for a minute or
two and let yourself feel deep appreciation.