What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening, in the present moment, in our bodies (sensations), in our thoughts and in our emotions as well as in our surroundings. It’s being truly present, mind and body, with whatever we’re doing, whether we’re interacting with students, teachers or staff at work, driving our car or riding our bicycle, or washing the dishes at home. We spend much of our time in our heads, lost in thoughts. There’s a joke in the academic world about teachers and professors perceiving their bodies exclusively as a means of transportation for their mind. The practice of mindfulness helps us bring body and mind together so that we can truly live in the present moment in appreciation and gratitude.
What does mindfulness have to do with teaching English?
Good question! The fact is that how we relate to others, particularly to our students and colleagues, is highly dependent upon the relationship we have with ourselves. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to actually change the way our brains work, by reducing activity in its “Me centre”, for example, as well as rivalling antidepressants for depression and anxiety and improving our concentration and attention, among many others. Can you imagine what this does for our lesson planning, classroom management skills and the level of engagement we experience with our students? For more information about this, please read our Mindfulness and ELT section here.
How do we prepare to meditate?
- The first thing we do is to select a place in our home where you we will not be disturbed during the time of practice. A quiet corner is enough for us to set ourselves up in such a way that we feel comfortable and relaxed
- Decide whether we want to sit on a cushion, a meditation stool or a chair, whichever feels most comfortable.
- Sitting comfortably and in such a way that we feel solid and stable.
- Straightening our upper body, but without stiffening. We want our spine to retain its natural curvature as we sit upright and alert.
- Place our upper arms parallel to our upper body and rest the palms of our hand symmetrically on our laps, either face down, face up or cupped together, whichever feels most natural and comfortable.
- Softening our gaze – we drop our chin a little and let our gaze fall gently forward. We close our eyes if this feels comfortable, but if it doesn’t, we let whatever appears before our eyes be there without focusing on it
- Bringing our attention gently to our breath, that is, the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through our nose, the rising and falling of our abdomen or chest
- Noticing when our mind wanders from our breath. It is inevitable that our mind should leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. We don’t need to block or eliminate thinking. When we notice our mind wandering, we gently return it to the breathing.
- Being kind about our wandering mind because its nature is to wander. Rather than struggling or wrestling with our thoughts, we practise observing them without reacting. We just sit and pay attention with open curiosity. We come back to our breath over and over again, without judgement or expectation.
How will meditation help me?
Neuroscience research over the past two decades supports the claim that mindfulness meditation exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health as well as cognitive performance.
Mindfulness meditation helps:
- strengthen inner peace and prevent stress
- sharpen our senses and see clearly what is happening in and around us
- avoid falling into the grip of emotions and reacting unconsciously or out of habit
- concentrate and be free of the tyranny of thoughts
- increase patience and self-acceptance
- support contagious joy and an ethic of altruism
- better understand our students
- improve academic performance
Why take an online workshop?
Whereas it’s possible – perhaps even advisable – to take advantage of all the new technologies such as websites and apps that help us practice on our own, many of us feel the need to learn with a more experienced teacher, and we all benefit a great deal from sharing our experience with others.
Taking the workshop will help you integrate the skills and ideas you learn with the practice into your daily life and allow you to experience the benefits of a calmer mind, greater confidence and improved performance.
Who are the workshops for?
These workshops are designed for:
- teachers of English
- online moderators
- customer services and admin staff
- anyone involved in the ELT industry interested in finding out more about mindfulness and looking to establish a regular practice for themselves from the comfort of their own home and yet as part of a like-minded community who is learning and practising together.
How to they work?
Our workshops are designed to help you integrate mindfulness into your everyday life, and thereby into your classrooms, one to one lessons, meetings with teachers and general professional activities. Please see our Outline section for more information.
Do I need experience with meditation?
No, our introductory workshops (Introduction to Mindful Practices and Task-Based Mindfulness) have been created to guide new practitioners step by step, and it is advisable to read the answers to all the questions in this section, especially How do we prepare to meditate?
Additionally, please remember that although you may be practising at home on your own, and even when the people around you may not be very supportive, at first, of your intention to engage with the practice of meditation, you are not alone. By registering to our workshops you will immediately come into contact with other ELT professionals committed to the practice.
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(Because the practice starts before you sit)