Why is the first week back from Christmas break so hard? Is it because we’re forced to wear clothes again and not just pajamas? Is it the feeling of freedom to binge watch three and four seasons of a tv show at one sitting? Whatever the case, the first week back seems like the longest week of the year.
Just add pajamas and Apple TV
It also seems like everyone wants everything all at once, which makes it easy to become nearly hysterical with feelings of being overwhelmed. Or maybe that’s just me. My sweet colleagues who happened to see one of my meltdowns on Tuesday would say that “hysterical” is a nice way to describe the tsunami of words they were the unfortunate bystanders of just because they were in the same room. For all my desire to swagger like a cool girl, I am a shaky mess in sad pants most days.
Pictured: Original Sad Pants
Because of my tendency to say certain words whenever I see certain emails in my workflow, I’m attempting to deal with trouble before it begins by trying to be mindful. A great source, I’ve found, is Deborah Schoeberlein’s Mindful Teaching & Teaching Mindfulness (2009). I really like her advice to set an intention for the day, it tends to make you a better, more present – and pleasant – teacher. It can be as simple as setting an intention to greet students with a smile and welcome them by name as they enter the room. This is really helpful if you have a class that tends to drain you every day.
Not even head snakes scare the class into being quiet
With mindfulness, you’re more likely to view a really challenging class as just that, ‘a really challenging class,’ instead of feeling that the experience has somehow ruined your entire day. Purposefully taking a mental step back, in order to notice what happened without immediately engaging with intense emotions and reactions, provides a kind of protection against unconstructive responses and the self-criticism that can slip out and make a hard thing even harder… It’s an attitude of, ‘Oh, here are some thoughts about work (or a relationship or something else), but I’m not going to get into them now.’ Be gentle with yourself, and patient, and kind.
I’m trying that, especially this week. Schoeberlein explains a concrete method for mindfulness practice that she calls “Take 5”
TAKE 5: Mindful Breathing
Breathe normally, paying attention to the feeling of the breath as it fills your lungs and then flows up and back out the way it came.
Notice when you lose awareness of the breath and start thinking about something else, daydreaming, worrying, or snoozing.
Return your attention to the breath, with kindness toward yourself and as little commentary as possible.
Try making a deal with yourself: you’ll take five minutes every school day morning for one month to practice mindful breathing.
Cypress Tree Byobu, folding screen by Kano Eitoku, 1590
Lazy Cow by Sarah White
19th Century Algerian Woman
Medusa by Caravaggio0