Q and A: Mindfulness Session at Grandview Heights Ed Camp

On October 27 (I know; I am late!) I hosted a session for Grandview Heights City Schools titled, “Mindfulness for Teachers: Reducing Stress and Supporting Wholeness.”  Here are a couple of resources and a short Q and A from the session.

First of all, here is the research report, “Teacher Stress and Health: Effects on Teachers, Students, and Schools” from Pennsylvania State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This report cited research stating that 46% of teachers reported high levels of daily stress that affected their quality of life and teaching performance.  The report also cites mindfulness and social and emotional learning as two effective interventions for this burdensome stress.

Second of all, I cited the TEDTalk by Matt Killingsworth, “Want to be Happier?  Stay in the Moment” as a resource that supports mindfulness as a tool for increased well-being.  Killingsworth conducted the largest happiness study of its kind through an app that asked three questions that measured “mind wandering,” a mind-state that negatively affects happiness.  The talk is 10 minutes and can be watched below.

Third, you can watch the video on neuroplasticity here on my website under “What is Mindfulness?” and learn more about mindfulness in general from the research provided there.

Lastly here is a Q and A from the event:

Can you tell me more about neuroplasticity?  

I found this helpful, easily consumable infographic, tilted somewhat toward addiction.  It is helpful in giving a quick overview of neuroplasticity and some its implications.  In addition, here is lesson one and lesson two on using neuroplasticity to talk to students about growth from some work I did with a teacher a few years ago.

How long does it take to build new neural pathways?  

There is no one answer to this question.  It depends upon how “ingrained” the original pathway is, how consistently an alternative is implemented, and other environmental and genetic factors that may affect the individual seeking brain change.  For example, the neurological changes that occur with addiction make it harder to modify neural pathways to other, non-addictive behaviors, and it may take longer and be more difficult to create changes.  In addition, environmental factors, such as stress, hunger and lack of sleep could have an impact on the speed with which are brains learn (which is why self-care is so important).  One thing that has been shown in research, however, is that formal mindfulness practice of ten minutes a day is a “fast track” to positive brain changes.

How can I find the time to have silence/be mindful?  

We all live in the cultural framework of “time scarcity thinking.”  You can learn more about the negative effects of scarcity thinking in this five-minute sound recording from Hidden Brain.  In essence, feeling we have less of something than we need impairs our decision making in favor of short-term benefits over long-term gains.  Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan states, “That’s at the heart of the scarcity trap. You are so focused on the urgent that the important gets waylaid. But because the important gets waylaid, you’re experiencing even more scarcity tomorrow.”

Mindfulness is important to mental and physical health, to doing the work we want to do to the best of our abilities.  The time to do this practice will not be “found,” however; it will always be created.

Can we carve out 10 minutes of time every day?  The answer is yes, even if our adrenaline-soaked and addled brains tries to tell us otherwise.

Try creating a one-sentence plan and write an “I” statement committing to it.  For example,

“I will engage in a formal mindfulness practice for ten minutes at 9:30 p.m. every weekday.”  

“I will take a twenty minute walk, with no cell phone, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m.” 

Read this statement aloud to someone else.  Tell your family, or any others with whom you share your home. Ask them to help you stick with the commitment.

What resources are available here in the Columbus for those who want to engage mindfulness practice in community?  

Meetup.com has MANY mindfulness-based groups who meet in the Columbus area.  In addition, the Shambhala Meditation Center has open sitting hours on Wednesdays from 7:00- 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00- 12:00 a.m.

Some participants also asked if I would be willing to host small groups interested in engaging mindfulness practice together, which is something I can do. I charge $25.00 a person with a minimum of four people participating (the cost is higher for less than four people) for an introductory session (with options available for continuation if both parties are interested).

Also, I have an upcoming event at the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio called “Mindful Connection and Compassion: Building Bridges to Develop Growth Mindset” on Dec. 16.  You can read the blurb and register here.

I didn’t answer all of the many very thoughtful questions from the event, so if there are other burning questions left, please leave a comment on the post, contact me directly through Connect with Me + Newsletter, or ask me at the next Ed Camp.  Thank you and see you soon!

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