My New Mindful Year

‘Mindfulness’ is a term that has been bandied about quite a bit recently on the internet; I didn’t even know this until just a few weeks ago when I discovered just what mindfulness means to me. I was looking up information about mindfulness in teaching when I realized that there is a trend going on. I’ve managed to stay out of the general trend of mindfulness as it deals with the masses. I don’t like getting caught up in the trend stuff because it cheapens it for me. It makes it almost faddish, and that isn’t a good thing for an idea that has meant so much to me lately.

So what does mindfulness mean to me? It means being aware of what is going on right now, and being less concerned with what is going to happen in the future or what happened in the past. My mind practically lives in the future. It lives in the “what would happen if I do this” or “wouldn’t it be nice to do this in six months” place where nothing is really happening yet because I am fantasizing about something that can’t possibly happen yet because there are many steps to get there. Yes, I know – that was the worst run-on sentence in the world, but that is just how my mind works sometimes. On and On and On and On. Constantly.

As you may know from a previous post, I just finished reading Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray. In it, he talks about how pressure takes away creativity and the power of play. He quotes several authors who say that in order to write a book, you can’t think about your audience or the critics or anything else; you simply have to write the book. I haven’t necessarily been struggling with this, but it did make me think about the whole writing process, especially since I have been stuck (with no good reason to be). Actually, I’m stuck because I was thinking too much about the audience or what other people would think about what I was writing. I attempted to revise an entire chapter because of a conversation that I had with someone. There was nothing wrong with the material that I had at first, but I chose to try to re-work that chapter, and it failed. Miserably. I really tried to make it work, but I know that it doesn’t. So I have to go back and re-write the whole thing because I didn’t trust my own judgment. And the kicker is that this material that I am writing on has already been tested – I’ve done several workshops on the material, and they’ve all been very well received. So there was no good reason for me to change the material.

Because of this, and the fact that it just happened a month ago or so, that part of the book really resonated with me and made me think about my intent to be more mindful. Of course, I want to inject mindfulness into every aspect of my life, not just my writing, but this example shows just how much can be impacted if I stop thinking about the future or everyone else and simply worry about the next step that I need to take in order to do what I want to do.

I recently saw a video of an interview with Oprah in which she talked about the concept of mindfulness and how everyone has a path. You know when you are on the wrong path because your body and mind tell you that you are on the wrong path. Be mindful of the signs and do what you can to get on the right path. Everyone has one. That is mindfulness.

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Rediscovering My Passion

One thing that I’ve learned from years of teaching is, when stress and burn out hit it is time to slow down. In some cases it is time to stop. Like now. Now would be the time for me to stop and take a good hard look at what I’m doing. What am I doing? I switched jobs because the stress was killing me. Now I am in a low-stress teaching job, one that has been much more enjoyable than where I came from. I have been trying to write a book, but I’m not getting much enjoyment out of that right now. Am I doing what I want to be doing?

The answer is no. I am not doing what I want to be doing. I want to be connecting more. I want to get back to my passions of creativity and curiosity. I enjoyed blogging and writing about creativity and reading and studying about it also. The stuff that I have been blogging about has been great and it is important in the classroom, but everything that I have been blogging about is applicable to the one goal that I have always had in the classroom: to inspire creativity in my students. The problem that I have had is that I have overlooked this goal and focused on the nuts and bolts. I am not a nuts and bolts kind of person, and the approach that I decided to take on these blog posts has been driving me crazy. It is time for me to take a step back, stop, and tie all of this back to my main love, creativity. I love watching students be creative. I love encouraging them to find creative solutions to problems and to be innovative. I love providing them with materials and watching what they do with them in their own creative ways. I love talking to them about a new topic and finding out all of the creative things that they think about the topic, and then going out and learning more about the topic with them. I love it, and it is time for me to recognize that this is where my passion is. It is time for me to take that into consideration no matter what I am writing or doing. No matter what I write, it has to be me, and there is nothing more me than my ultimate passion.