Trying to Live More in the Present? Tackle a 21-Day Mindfulness Challenge!
My friend Andrea sent me a link to a 21-Day Mindfulness Challenge hosted by Kind Spring that starts on September 2. Since school started a few weeks ago, we've both been running around to various meetings, planning lessons, grading, and teaching. We've both commented on how sometimes we lose focus on what's most important.
I'm really glad Andrea sent me this link because this challenge seems achievable.
The basic premise is that I will receive a daily email from Kind Spring inviting me to perform one small daily action that relates to mindfulness. The website describes the process: "Every day for three weeks a unique idea is emailed out that serves as a prompt. Participants are encouraged to carry out the act and share stories of their experiences in both online and offline spaces."
These acts are billed as broad enough that anyone can participate. For free! And with very little time commitment. According to Kind Spring, most acts can be completed within five minutes.
The sign-up was easy. They asked for my name, country, a description of what inspired me to join this challenge, and my email address. I opted to receive their weekly newsletter and their DailyGood email because I'd like to see what the content looks like. I can opt out later if the emails become overwhelming.
I'm looking forward to seeing what their daily acts/prompts consist of. What will I have to do? I know I won't have time to post about this challenge every day, but I'll comment on it in my Quirky This Week newsletter, and I'll do a wrap-up post summarizing how I felt about the challenge. I want to get back to feeling more "in the now".
Just before school started I had numerous meetings to attend. Plus I had to get my classroom ready. Not an easy task because when I left Denver I left my "teacher stuff" behind. I didn't have anywhere to store everything and two new teachers were coming into the English department, so I felt like leaving my stuff for them was good Karma. But in August I was hitting every sale to restock. And the hours needed to prepare quickly dwindled. I'll track backwards...
School started on a Thursday. On Wednesday, we had the district "kick-off" meeting in the morning and a middle school orientation for sixth graders in the late morning/early afternoon. On Tuesday, we had our day-long school retreat where we focused on learning more about helping students develop a growth mindset. Glad I read the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success! On Monday, I had time in my classroom. Phew! But I sure didn't get everything done.
So I was sitting in the retreat on that Tuesday. My principal acknowledged that she knew most of us were itching to get into our classrooms and finish up our before-school preparations, but she asked us to be present at the retreat because the work there would truly shape our year.
I boxed myself into that room. That's one of my strategies. If I realize that my mind is straying or has the potential to stray in certain situations, I compartmentalize myself into the place where I am. I don't actually visualize a box, but I consciously try to quiet my mind, place anxieties and my "to do list" outside of that room and outside of my reach.
Sometimes I do well with this strategy. Other times, not so much. That Tuesday, I was doing well. I'm not certain if I was influenced by my colleagues around me or if I was just excited to be teaching again. Whatever it was. I found my zone. I was not worrying about the the various filing systems I had to create for the fluency program, handout bins, and student portfolios. I was not considering which posters to hang in particular spots. I was not lesson planning in my mind. I was in the school library completely engaged in the presentation. Living in the now! Thinking in the now!
Until the presenter actually verbalized about two hours later that he knew that many people in the room were anxious about getting everything done before Thursday.
I felt my mindful little boxed bubble burst.
On the one hand, I was really proud of myself for achieving the level of mindfulness where I was a 100% participant with no external forces making me stress out. On the other hand, I had to work a little harder to re-enter that level of mindfulness and engagement.
Since school has started, my lists on Trello have blown up! Mostly, my daily tasks on my Personal Board and School Board have grown, but even my Blog Board has been accumulating tasks.
Last week, I came home from school a few times with persistent headaches. Finally, I soaked in the tub while listening to one of my favorite podcasts. Focusing my mind on someone else's voice and thoughts was incredibly relaxing. After three days, the headache finally disappeared. I think I needed a mindfulness tune up.
And I like the idea of keeping mindfulness in a prime position. A core value for me. This 21-Day Challenge may be difficult. But as Yoda, my growth mindset model, would say, "Do or do not. There is no try."