I’ll never forget a few years ago, I was sitting in my office working on a spreadsheet during testing season. It was also, coincidentally, Girl Scout Cookie season. I had received my box of Thin Mints, and started chugging away on sorting and tabbing some necessary (eh) matrix. Ten minutes later my colleague walked in the room and my work bubble popped. I looked down and realized I had eaten an entire sleeve of Thin Mints without even realizing it. I couldn’t even recall what they tasted like. I was a robot on auto-play, hand-to-mouth over and over as I toiled away mindlessly.
This past summer I listened to an incredible 5 minute meditation on InsightTimer, that I wish I had heard back during those mindless snacking-while-working days. As teachers – our days are chaotic. 8 full hours of having 20-30 little (or maybe not so little) people asking you 1,000 questions, requesting 5,000 demands. On top of that you have a 30 minute break to try and beat the copy machine, use the restroom and hopefully scarf down a snack (if you are lucky).
Mindfulness isn’t really something we get the luxury of.
But what if it is something we could make time for? What if you reframed your day so you could find 30 second spurts to be mindful, to check in with yourself, and to make sure you aren’t on auto-play to get through your day?
Here are a few ways to help:
- When standing at the copy machine to run off copies for your next class, close your eyes. Place both feet on the ground and both hands on the machine. Take 5 deep breaths. Listen to the hum of the inner-working pulleys and levers. Tune in to the feeling of the machine on your finger tips. Open your eyes and continue on.
- During your planning period, turn off the lights in your classroom (optional). Take a bottle of water and close your eyes. Take 2 deep breaths in and out. Take a sip of water mindfully: feel the water pass your lips, hold it on your tongue, analyze the sensation of it flowing down your throat. Take 2 more deep breaths. Take another sip. Repeat as necessary. (side note: this can also be done with coffee, tea or that piece of candy you stole out of the teacher’s lounge!)
- Our rooms always need tidying up, so this strategy is similar to a walking meditation. As you walk around your room, organizing your various stations and shelves – say to yourself exactly what you are doing. If you are organizing pencils in a jar, say ” I am organizing pencils in a jar”. Try to continue to focus on the task at hand, instead of thinking about everything you *need* to do next. Bonus points if you talk to yourself with a smile! Psychologically, “faking it until you make it” when it comes to happiness is a real deal. If you project happiness, it actually makes you – well, happier!
I hope these strategies help get you through your week a bit more mindfully. Our work is crazy, but we can find mini-moments throughout the day to help us re-center on ourselves.