In today’s educational environment, standardized testing is an inevitable reality for both educators and students. For many, it is also a source of stress and feelings of powerlessness.
As with many environmental factors, this circumstance is not likely to be changed by the individuals most affected any time soon (teachers and students), so it is a good place to explore the tools that we can change: our individual reaction to the circumstances faced.
Here are a few strategies that may be helpful during this testing season. Ways to begin exploring what powerlessness over circumstances brings up for us, and how we can work with it in daily life.
“What worries you masters you.”
– Beam, “Ten Mindful Quotes…”
Aaron Sherman, long-term partner in the Pages program and teacher at ACPA, asked me a few months ago to visit his class, creatively themed around power. He wanted me to present/co-teach a lesson on gaining power through mindfulness over various aspects of one’s life.
We explored this topic in three different areas:
Power over thinking– In this part of the two-day lesson we explored how focused attention practice, such as focusing on the breath, can allow students to get distance from their thoughts enough to decide with which thoughts they would like to engage.
Power over feeling– In this part of the lesson, we focused on practices for dealing with negative emotions due to overwhelming stress via heart-focused breathing meditation.
Power over actions– in the final section of the lesson, we focused on how loving-kindness meditation can be used to feel more compassion and connection for others
I have been listening to a podcast called The One You Feed after a friend recommended it to me. In a recent episode, the host, Eric Zimmer (one of the podcast founders who also lives in Columbus, Ohio), interviewed Don Miguel Ruiz, most well known as the writer of the book Four Agreements.
“We learn to love the same way that everybody else loves… the way they love us is with conditions. We can say that with 99.999 percent of humans, they love with conditions… And that’s how we love everybody, but everybody also loves us the same way. They love us if we do what they want us to do. It’s the reason we want to please everybody in the world.”