The mind is an interesting machine. It can be the source of the greatest joys in our lives and in the same breath be the source of extreme pain and suffering. The mind is constantly talking. It is literally the voice that is in your head. It is what is telling you that all the things you have to do, the one that keeps you up at night worrying about the next days lesson plans or the student you know if going to come in and raise hell the next day. It is what takes conflict and allows it to consume you to the point of unhealthy stress. It is the source of waking up in the middle of the night.
The voice in your mind is also the one telling you that you are not good enough. It is the source of anger when your ideas are being attacked or you feel your dispositions are being ignored. It is what shuts you down when you get overwhelmed and tunes out or stops listening to the thoughts of others when they do not agree with your own. It is the sickness that is destroying our outer and inner worlds.
Students suffer from this voice as well. It is the voice that tells them to hide confusion. That the classroom disruption is more savory than the embarrassment of failure and struggle. Students many times are physically present in our rooms but they and mentally absent. The voices in their heads are just as busy as ours and to presume that their voices are any less valued than yours is a recipe for compliance rather than engagement.
The mind is our greatest asset but also our greatest enemy. We believe the mind defines us but the mind is not who we are. Sure, it helps bring a sense of identity in a world of perceived chaos. Yet, the voice in your head also provides you with anxiety, doubt, past experience and regret, collective cultural mindsets that all conglomerate into this thing we call worry.
Our minds are conditioned to take on a certain reality. These things place labels, concepts, patterns, perceptions, problems that need to be solved and the ego needs these things to sustain. When we can quiet the mind, we find a certain sense of silence appears. Through this silence, we begin to find beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace. We find our flow or are “in our element”.
How do we help our students find their flow and their element? How do we help them silence their mind and channel it into a learning mode that transcends any imposed teacher engagement strategy that a teacher creates?
If we focus on mindfulness with our students than engagement and presence are much more possible. Provide times in your classroom and in your professional development to focus on breathing. Allow kids time to just be. Sit in silence. Feel the room. Let your participants or students know that silence is okay. Be present with them. Allow the very moment you are in to be the most important moment. Hone in on the now. This is holiness.
The mind is not programmed to do this. The ego is the most destructive force we must deal with and the repression of the ego is equally destructive. When we can condition ourselves that we are not that voice in our head and acknowledge that, then we can become fully present with one another. Rather than fight the ego, realize the ego is not you and find acceptance with that.
Maybe this is an area we are missing when we think of education. Thoughts?