Laurie Grossman interviewed Ms. Chasmin Moses, 4th Grade Teacher at REACH Academy in Oakland, California
If you are a teacher, please practice mindfulness with your students every day. It will be life changing. It has been for me.
I learned about mindfulness at my school, Reach Academy five years ago. I’ve noticed major changes in my life ever since I started practicing mindfulness. For instance, my stress levels should be really high but they aren’t thanks to my daily mindfulness practice.
I am a single mom, a 4th grade teacher in a Title I school, received notice of a rent increase that necessitated my moving within the first month of school, and am an active member in a teacher policy fellowship program. With all of this, my levels of stress could be really high, however, with mindfulness I am able to be present with clarity to properly address the issues I’m facing. I am in tune with my thoughts and actions. When I blow up, like if I yell at my daughter, I understand why and realize that next time, I have to choose a different path. I have become much more reflective because of mindfulness.
If I didn’t have my mindfulness practice, I would be like so many other teachers that have left Reach prematurely. Even though I love the children I teach and Reach’s community, I wouldn’t have been able to make it this long at this particular school without mindfulness.
For all of us, life is unpredictable. Without mindfulness my level headedness would be unpredictable. I wouldn’t be able to control my reactions. The negative things in life are inevitable. Trials and tribulations will happen to all of us. How I respond to unpredictable events is what I’m in control over. I feel confident in that. Practicing mindfulness along with Inner Explorer every day teaches our students to cope with the inevitable. It is a really helpful lifelong tool we are embedding in the students and in ourselves. Inner Explorer walks children through helpful sittings such as ‘sending kind wishes’ and the ‘body scan’. IE has heightened my mindfulness practice with the wide range of guided lessons.
A small example of how I used mindfulness with my daughter occurred this morning. After taking a shower she became extremely upset that she didn’t have her favorite towel. I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to get so upset over a towel when perhaps she should be grateful she had a clean towel. She was very, very upset. I encouraged her to take some deep breaths and to calm down. She walked around and took a few breaths and sat down and cooled down and said, “You’re right Mommy.” I told her she was like the glitter bottle.* By sitting down and taking a few breaths, she allowed the frustration in her mind to settle so that she could think clearly about how to respond to a situation she didn’t like. I told her that when something like that happens you can put the glitter bottle down by taking a few breaths and go back to your day and enjoy it. She agreed.
Mindfulness is amazing. I cannot encourage you enough to practice mindfulness along with IE every day with your students. Changes will quickly become apparent in your life both inside and outside of school.
BTW, mindfulness makes my students ready to learn and they do much better academically and socially as a result.
*The glitter bottle is an art project which replicates brain activity to demonstrate what happens in our brains when we are stressed.