#MindfulBreaktime: a challenge for busy teachers

I’ve toyed with writing a post about mindfulness for a while because I felt the topic was perhaps a little too ‘woo woo’ for a teaching blog, that usually features snippets on the computing curriculum and the like, but then I figured that if I was compelled to buy a book called Mindfulness for Busy People then perhaps other teachers might be in need of it too. I bought it earlier this year after spotting it in WH Smiths at Birmingham New Street Station while waiting for a train back to London. I’d just spent two days running sessions for primary ICT coordinators on the new computing curriculum and was feeling overwhelmed with how busy I was and how much I had to do. Don’t get me wrong, I also feel extremely lucky to have these opportunities outside of my classroom teaching, and still thoroughly enjoy them, but nevertheless  I was starting to get a little overwhelmed. When people would me how I was, my default response became ‘busy… but good.’  So there I was, looking at a book that promised to ‘turn frantic and frazzled into calm and composed’ and I knew I needed to see what it said! And I bet I’m not the only one – we’ve all got heavy workloads, haven’t we?

What is mindfulness?

There is plenty of information around on this, but in short I see mindfulness is the opposite of autopilot. A lot of us go about a large proportion of our daily business on autopilot, not really paying full attention to what we are doing – multitasking probably has a lot to do with that. While we’re in autopilot mode, our thoughts can easily run away with themselves, which can lead to overwhelm, worry, stress and other pretty unpleasant feelings. Mindfulness can help you to snap out of autopilot and bring yourself back to the present moment. There is also a lot of research to back up its positive effects on many aspects of wellbeing.

The One Minute Mindful Breaktime – #MindfulBreaktime

What I like about Mindfulness for Busy People is that it’s realistic and contains ideas for mindfulness exercises that you can just fit into your normal daily routine. One such idea is to turn having a cup of coffee into a mindful exercise, by holding it with both hands (or in a different way if that’s how you already hold it), being aware of the heat on your hands, noticing the weight of the cup, taking the time to notice the steam and aroma coming from it, experiencing the taste as you take a sip and all the time being aware that you are noticing all these things. Essentially, pay attention to your cup of coffee, even for just a minute, rather than doing it while multitasking and trying to mark, speak to someone, send an email etc at the same time.

So how about it? How about committing to paying full attention to your cup of coffee at break time this week and see if it begins to shift how your feel in anyway? Or if that doesn’t work for you, make any part of your daily routine more mindful, like writing the date up on the board or taking the chairs down off the tables or anything else you can think of that you usually do without even noticing. I would love to hear from anyone who decides to give it a whirl in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag, #MindfulBreaktime.


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