Mindfulness is a Superpower

By Jimmy Warden

Have you ever been so angry that you’ve felt it coursing through your body like a volcano ready to erupt at any moment? To the point that your fists are clenched and ready to unload on anyone and anything? Or maybe your jaw was clenched so hard it’d be able to gnaw through steel? The question is: What did you do during those times? Did you release it? Suppress it? Let it linger? Let it consume you? Regardless of what happened, imagine if you could notice the anger, and just let it go. That is the power of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is not just a sit-down meditation practice where people notice their thoughts or emotions and let them go. It is also a practice that gets implemented into daily life. Its true power lies in implementation.

Imagine this. You’re a teacher, and you’re in a room full of ten and eleven-year-olds. They’re focused solely on their personal needs, and they’re willing to do anything to meet those needs. They’re constantly calling out your name. They’re not following the simple one or two-step directions you gave them. They’re consistently confused about what to do no matter how finely you distill the information or task at hand. They need constant redirection and reminders about what to do and how to behave. They continuously get each other’s nerves. They’re disrespecting each other. Then a student disrespects you on top of all that.

Doesn’t that sound like a recipe to set off the adult in front of them?

If you answered yes to the question above, congratulations, you are correct!

As many of you know – and for those that don’t – I’m an elementary school teacher by trade and training. As an elementary school teacher, I experience a tremendous amount of stress and whirlwind emotions every day. Mindfulness has been a godsend for me because of the high levels of stress I face.

The scenario that I described above is not too far-fetched. It is more common than most people think. Those situations are the main reason I began practicing mindfulness at the age of twenty-four.

Let’s take a second look at that situation with a mindfulness implementation.

You’re a teacher, and you’re in a room full of ten and eleven-year-olds. You take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth; your mind becomes clearer. They’re focused solely on their personal needs, and they’re willing to do anything to meet those needs. You acknowledge this reality, take another deep breath, and take on the situation with a clearer head. They’re constantly calling out your name. You notice who needs what, take a breath, redirect the students to wait patiently because you’re one person, and you meet their needs one at a time. They’re not following the simple one or two-step directions you gave them. You notice you feel frustrated, you acknowledge it, breath through the emotion, and repeat your directions. They’re consistently confused about what to do no matter how finely you distill the information or task at hand. You notice you feel frustrated again, you acknowledge it a second time, breath through the emotion, and refine the misunderstood information to the children that misunderstand. They need constant redirection and reminders about what to do and how to behave. You feel angry because you expect more from 10 and 11-year-olds. You notice the anger, take another deep breath, and lead a brief discussion about the behavioral expectations. They continuously get each other’s nerves, and disrespect each other. Now you’re furious because you just wrapped up a discussion about how to behave. You acknowledge the anger, breath, give another reminder, and move on. Then a student disrespects you on top of all that. You’re ready to explode. You take a few deep breaths, let the anger pass, and walk calmly up to that student and ask them to meet you in the hallway. Then, you have a discussion about why their actions were inappropriate and hurtful, and help them determine what they can do differently moving forward.

Again, this is not out of the ordinary for any teacher to face, regardless of the age they teach. This practice is also useful for anyone that’s not a teacher. All you have to do is substitute your stress scenarios for the ones I laid out and implement the same tools. Acknowledge the emotion in the situation, take a deep breath or two, let the emotion fade into the background, and move forward to solve the problem at hand.

That is how mindfulness can be anyone’s superpower. The more that we’re aware of our emotions, the better we can handle them with appropriate tactics. It all boils down to noticing when we’re triggered, taking breaths to reconcile the sensations that arise, letting those go, and coming back to the situation at hand with a clearer head.

So give it a try next time you feel stressed. Notice you’re feeling that way, take some deep breaths, and let that shit go. It will help you move forward in the face of adversity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s