What Happened the Day Schools across America Stopped & Practiced Mindfulness
Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there.” ~Eckhart Tolle
August 21, 2017 will most likely be a day that few will ever forget. Not for the date, but what happened on this date. Schools and communities across the continental United States all paused and took in the first Solar Eclipse in 38 years! For the students and adults that participated in this event, it will go down as one of those, “I remember where I was” events.
For the 14 lucky States that were in the “totality” path; it meant two minutes of being “Present” to take in one of the biggest science events in our lifetime! Not worrying about the Past or Future, just being Present. What a way for schools to kick off the new year-with a mindfulness theme! I’m guessing few advertised it as such.
This event also unveiled the “secret to happiness!”
What? Wait a minute?
The secret to happiness? I think I missed that part…
Well, not to get carried away with suggesting that each day will bring about equally exciting and memorable experiences as this once in 38-year event. But, properly cultivated, you can experience a much more satisfied life with the lessons learned from the Great American Eclipse.
What’s the secret you may ask?
We all have those timeline events like vacations or even tragic events in our lives when our brain gets triggered to slow things down. It is in those moments that we take mental snapshots. It’s the reason why you remember those vacation trips to the beach. It also holds the keys to why it is much easier to allow your worries to drift away with the passing waves.
Mindfulness guru’s, like Eckhart Tolle, teach us that the greatest control is in the present and we need to savor this moment. To be true to life by being true to the moment. The means and the end are one. In other words; the journey is the new destination.
So, let’s head back to our vacation on the beach (the power of now or being present).
Can you picture in your head the sensation of your feet sinking into the sandy beach? Watching and listening to the gentle waves come and go as it lulls you to sleep? The sun burning against your skin? The refreshing taste of a cool beverage going down on a hot summer day?
If so, you are actually practicing a simple form mindfulness by activating your five senses. Most people go through life unaware in how to fully utilize or cultivate their true powers in life. In summary: Gaining peace by becoming obsessed with living in the present.
Another example: Take a look at this picture of a hiker. If her only objective was to get from Point A to Point B in terms of developing an exercise routine or habit, the odds are not riding in her favor for long term growth. However, utilizing the power of being present allows her to become fully enamored with natures beauty and in the mosaic colors of her journey. Those images make up what becomes her experience. Losing weight or getting in shape is almost secondary to the beauty that is experienced on her journey. For these reasons she is more driven to repeat the experience. Before you know it, 21 days of habit becomes a life altering wellness practice!
I mentioned this as what will ultimately help her be driven to that wellness habit is noticing her environment and the power of being present.
For those kids and adults watching the eclipse in the picture above, I’m guessing they have long forgotten many of the details of this day except for the actual eclipse event.
So, what’s the lesson?
Harness the “present” by actively practicing “mindfulness.” This can be an incredibly therapeutic tool for everyone but especially true for those of our students and teachers with “lived” experiences. Creativity and learning gets stymied for those living in a constant fight, flight, or freeze state; or what is commonly called, amygdala hijacked.
Mindfulness: It’s a lifelong tool & gift that we can give to both our students and ourselves. The best part: It’s doesn’t cost a thing except your investment in time!
For more information about how Jim and his team can help your school community; contact Jim @ traumainformedlearning.com.
The Chopra Center: Harness the Power of the Five Senses. http://chopra.com/sites/default/files/23%20Harness%20PSM-Resources-S5L4-Exercise.pdf
Video: “Mindfulness in Everyday Life” Jon Kabat Zinn with Oprah Winfrey. (2017).
Dr. Jim Walters was an early Trauma-Informed School adopter in the St. Louis region, Post-Ferguson. Through his consulting company; TRAUMAINFORMEDLEARNING.COM, he now assists schools across the nation in their quest to build healthier & more resilient communities through a trauma-informed lens.
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