Introduction to Mindfulness
An online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, created by a fully certified MBSR instructor, is the source of much of the TTAC Mindful Teacher program’s content. The Mindful Teacher Stress Reduction program is modified and adapted specifically for educators with time constraints. “Low dose” mindfulness programs have been found to produce similar adherence rates and outcome measures as traditional MBSR interventions.
“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment.”
“Mindfulness” is used in many contexts nowadays and there are many different understandings of the term. Diana Winston of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center gives the following definition: Paying attention to present moment experience with open curiosity and a willingness to be with what is.
Mindfulness: Being Fully Awake in Our Own Lives
This 9-minute video from the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is a good introduction to what we mean by mindfulness in the context of this course. It is narrated by Saki Santorelli, the current director at UMass.
Introduction to the MBSR Course
This 7-minute video, narrated by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others involved in the founding of MBSR, provides some interesting background about the MBSR course. MBSR is a blend of meditation, body awareness, and yoga: learning through practice and study how your body handles (and can resolve) stress neurologically. Also see the two-page article, MBSR: An Introduction, a short but engaging piece about MBSR.
This 3-min video from the UMass Medical School, gives a very brief overview of 30 years of research about the effects of MBSR. The 2-page document, MBSR Research Summary, is a concise, if dated, compilation of MBSR research. See the Scientific Research page for more recent research..
What will taking an MBSR course do for me?
Through this MBSR course, you will learn skills that can increase your ability to:
- Cope with stress, pain, and the challenges of everyday life
- Deal with disturbing events with grace and composure
- Be fully present and alive in this moment
While MBSR is not a “cure” for serious medical conditions and should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment, research indicates that mindfulness training can have a significant therapeutic effect for those experiencing stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, chronic pain, migraines, heart conditions, diabetes and other ailments. In addition, participants typically report feeling more alive, more “in-tune” with themselves and others.
If you want to know even more…
You don’t really need to know more about mindfulness to get started with the MBSR course, but if you are interested, there is an information-packed 74-minute video by Jon Kabat-Zinn that goes into much more detail than the short videos above, including more about the research that validates the practice of mindfulness in terms of physical health and psychological well-being.
The importance of practice
This course is highly experiential and the daily practice is perhaps the most important component. You wouldn’t expect to learn to surf by reading a book about surfboards and waves, and learning a mindfulness practice is no different than any other skill that involves both mind and body. You know from your own experience in learning to play an instrument, or a sport, or any complex skill whatsoever, that practice is important. Your body/mind is the most complex instrument in the universe. It takes time and practice to use it effectively and harmoniously.
For this reason, we recommend that you set aside about 20 minutes a day for practice. This may be the most difficult hurdle you face in getting started because one of the very issues you are facing may be not having enough time for all that needs to get done in a day – how are you going to find an extra 20 minutes? Previous participants have said that after a few weeks of practice, although their time to “do things” is technically 20 minutes less, there can be a feeling of having more space and time, even in the middle of a very busy day.
Mindful Teachers Stress Reduction
Week 1 – Overview and Week 1 of the Mindful Teacher Stress Reduction
Introduction to the Body Scan
After the overview, you’ll begin eight weekly classes and complete one all-day session. You’ll learn about the theory and evidence of mind-body medicine, mindfulness, and how to apply it to your daily life. You’ll learn how to use the body-scan practice, which cultivates a greater degree of awareness and perception of stressful situations.
Week 2 – Handling stress and Working with resistance
Attention & The Brain
Introduction to Sitting Meditation
Week 2 focuses on the concept of mindfulness: Here you’ll examine your own perceptions and assumptions of the world. How you see things, or don’t see them, will determine how you will respond to them. It is not the events themselves but rather how you handle them that influences the effects on your body and mind.
Week 3 – The power of being present and Coming to our senses
Dealing with Thoughts
Introduction to Yoga – Yoga 1
In week 3, you’ll become aware of the many pleasant moments we miss, perhaps by focusing only on the unpleasant ones, such as crisis or pain. By discovering that there is both pleasure and power in being present, you’ll be able to directly understand how your experiences create different reactions, such as pleasure or discomfort.
Week 4 – Coming to our senses & Staying present
Stress: Responding vs. Reacting
STOP: One-Minute Breathing Space and Yoga 2
Week 4 further develops these ideas and you’ll focus on developing your ability to concentrate and systematically expand your field of awareness. You’ll learn about the physiological and psychological bases of stress and then experience effective ways of responding positively and proactively to stressful situations and experiences.
Week 5 – Coping with Stress & Allowing Letting Be
Dealing with Difficult Emotions/Sensations
Soften, Soothe, Allow
By week 5 you’ll be halfway through the course, and after developing a good base and familiarity in mindfulness techniques, the focus now shifts to target points. These may include particular areas where you may be stuck in your life or notice unhealthy patterns and habits. You’ll then learn how to apply mindfulness to produce proactive responses to these things.
You’ll also learn how to apply mindfulness at the most critical moments in your life, such as when you experience extreme physical or mental sensations.
Week – 6 Stressful Communication & Thoughts are Not Facts
Mindfulness and Communication
Mountain Meditation and Lake Meditation
In week 6, you’ll learn how to maintain your center, recognize habitual patterns of relating, and discern skillful options in stressful interpersonal exchanges. We move from the intra-personal to the interpersonal, taking into account another’s world, and the place where their world and ours meet. This means recognizing that “the other” (person or persons) have their own perceptions, feelings and needs, which are almost certainly different than ours.
Week 7 – Cultivating kindness towards self and others
Mindfulness and Compassion
In week 7, you’ll learn how kindness and compassion are at the core of almost every meditative tradition. Moreover, self-kindness may be the most important component of being mindful – it’s the oil that makes the gears work. Practices are explored to help develop a disposition of generosity in formal meditation so that it may arise more readily in our day-to-day life.
Week 8 – Keeping your Mindfulness Alive
Developing a practice of your own
The final session reviews what you’ve learned and encourages you to use the techniques you’ve learnt in the course throughout the rest of your life.
What are teachers saying about mindfulness?
“I’ve become more understanding of others, and I’ve been better at communicating with my colleagues.”
“I am truly listening to my students. I am much more aware of the wait time each student needs and I find myself really listening to the questions my students are asking.”
“I am more aware of my thoughts and being in the moment. I can tell my heart isn’t racing as frequently or intensely.”
“It is amazing how much more efficiently my brain works when I am not spending my precious brain energy in the past or future!”
“Mindfulness has allowed me to more fully attend to the present moment, to stop chasing unproductive thoughts, and to exercise a greater degree of compassion towards myself. I’m a better teacher as a result. Just ask my students!”
“At first, I struggled with the silence and meditation because I am one of those people who likes to always be doing something… I also thought that it was kind of a strange, and I wasn’t quite sure how to react to it. However, after a few weeks of doing it, I learned to really appreciate the fact that there was some time during my day where it was perfectly acceptable for me to just relax and not have to be doing anything.”
“Unfortunately, we live in a world where we are constantly doing something, so taking a moment to just breathe is such a foreign concept in our society. However, once you get used to the idea, I think everyone loves it.”
“I have found more patience for myself and the mistakes that I make.”
“It is a powerful experience to take the time to be quiet and listen to your inner voice and personal needs.”
“It gives you a chance to change gears from whatever you just came from into what you are about to start in this class. In that way it is like a nice lemon sorbet, cleansing the palate.”
“I know that transitions can be the hardest part of the day in schools. If you have a routine in place like this, it can take away from the ‘out-of-control’ feeling that comes with transitioning.”
“If I had a really busy/stressful day and am not able to fall asleep, I will use this breathing technique to relax.”
“These practices enlighten me about the lives of others. I am going to have a relationship with my students and I need to have compassion for their problems. These exercises help me to develop this empathy and enlightenment.”
For more program information visit: https://goo.gl/GpTM0H
A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, created by a fully certified MBSR instructor, is the source of much of this program’s content. The Mindful Teacher Stress Reduction program is modified and adapted specifically for educators.