A Personal Account of Recovery from Mental Health Struggles

mental healthWith last week being Mental Health Week and World Mental Health day celebrated last weekend it got me reflecting on my own struggles with mental health and wellness and more recently my own healing. By sharing our stories and struggles we acknowledge and connect to our common humanity and perhaps in my sharing, others will find the courage to admit it if they’re not coping.

I have grappled with my mental health since my teenage years. Around age 15 I began to put pressure on myself to achieve and once this began I never lived up to my own standards of perfection – ever. Nothing I did was good enough in my eyes, despite a multitude of evidence to the contrary. Negative self-talk and a highly sensitive nature (that I have only recently learned more about) kept me in cycles of depression and anxiety throughout my twenties.

From the first year of my teaching career I struggled to switch off. I cried most evenings in my first year out of university as I stayed up late preparing lessons only for them to be hijacked by a particular student with ADHD and ODD in a year group that had been separated their entire schooling due to behavioural issues only to be put back together for me – first year out. No one else wanted them. I lasted the year but headed to Nepal and India the year after. I’ve always come back to teaching in between travels because in my gut I know it matters to the world despite it being overwhelming for me for so many years.

After the birth of my baby I expected to finally feel some peace and revel in the joy of maternity leave with my beautiful girl but unaddressed issues resurface – particularly in the face of sleep deprivation. In yoga we call these reoccurring issues “samskaras”, ruts in the road that we fall into time and time again – until we burn through them with consistent yoga practice. I found myself floored – in the deepest “rut in the road” of my life – by horrific post-natal depression and anxiety for which I desperately sought out medication. I had always eschewed drugs in any form despite being prescribed anti-depressants in the past but I knew that I needed them this time as my thought patterns became increasingly disturbing to me and I struggled to get out of bed each day. I remember saying to my mum “I feel like I don’t exist”. I’m not entirely sure what I meant but I was not living in the world that mentally healthy people inhabit. Every daily action was a chore, I wasn’t eating or sleeping and I experienced muscle twitching in my arms and legs when I did lie down in bed.

When I went back to work after 8 months maternity leave it felt good to get my brain moving in a different way again but looking back I was exhausted and depleted on a very deep level. It took 4 years of being back at work, perfectionism reigning supreme, rest-deprived, pushing through the tiredness and stress-addiction before something had to give. And it did. It took another teacher asking me how I was and then probing further for the truth, for me to admit I was not okay. I will be forever grateful to that colleague for his care and intuition that things were not right.

It has been over a year since that unravelling and it has been a daily practice and taken much effort to stay healthy but it has been worth it. I know I will never fall back into those ruts in the road – ever.

These are my top Positive Mental Health practices:

  • Be Honest with yourself: don’t just soldier on. Panic attacks, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, lethargy, nausea or feeling “low” for an extended period are all signs that you are not 100%. Honesty can be difficult but can only lead to positive outcomes.
  • Seek Professional Help: your work place will provide you with access to free counselling sessions or you can see your GP for a referral to a psychologist for 10 sessions a year that you can claim on Medicare (in Australia).
  • Schedule rest periods: don’t “rest when you’re done” because you are never done. If you are feeling particularly depleted take some long service leave or a mental health day and DO NOTHING.
  • Have time to yourself: to do what makes you feel alive, at least a few times a week.
  • Exercise every day: this doesn’t have to be strenuous and in fact if your nervous system is overloaded too much movement will have a negative impact.
  • Cultivate Stillness and Silence: meditation is optimal but can be torture for a frazzled nervous system. Practicing yoga prepares your body for meditation. It took me 12 years of practice to finally find stillness (I had a lot of samskaras to burn off!) See my post on calming your nervous system here.
  • Alleviate the internal (and external) pressure daily: the pressure to do more, be more, accumulate more. Repeat to yourself “I am enough” and “I have enough”.
  • Connect to your breath throughout the day: it’s a good measure of your internal state and anchors you to the present moment. Aim for some long, slow, deep, abdominal breathing each day –you can do this in bed!

Not only do the children in our classes need and deserve the happiest, healthiest teachers for their own wellbeing but you deserve the happiest and healthiest life. Only you can create that.

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Taking off the Shield of Perfectionism

perfectionismDr Brené Brown (a research professor at the University of Houston who studies shame, vulnerability and fear) speaks of the shields that we wear each day, armour that we put on to protect ourselves from shame, blame, judgement and criticism but which ultimately block us from living wholehearted, authentic lives. One of the shields that she speaks of, that I have grappled with personally and see others in our profession struggle with, is perfectionism.

Brené recognises that we all lie somewhere on the perfectionism continuum but for some it can be compulsive, chronic and debilitating – a far cry from healthy striving. We see it in our students who won’t even have a go for fear that it won’t be good enough – the epitome of the adage “perfect is the enemy of done”.

In our profession we need to get things done quickly as we have so much to do. So for those of us who need everything to be perfect to feel like we are doing a good job it can be excruciating to accept that our work is “good enough”. On the whole it is not our leaders calling for perfection, it’s the critical voice within.

So how do we let go of this shield in order to truly show up for our lives? Brené says we must make the journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough” if we want to be free. We do have a choice about how we operate but like any behaviour we want to change it’s first a matter of awareness.

Some tips from a recovering perfectionist (who is practicing the art of “good enough” in this here blog):

* Notice your reaction when you make a mistake. What is your self-talk like? How do you treat yourself? Practise treating yourself as you would another teacher in the same situation – we generally speak more kindly to others than we do to ourselves.

* Do you worry what other people will think of you? The classic example of this kind of worry for me is at the start of the year when I think ‘Will they compare me to last year’s teacher? They’re really good at…’ When I have these thoughts I remind myself of my own gifts. Repeat the mantra “I am enough” whenever you feel this kind of worry creeping in.

* Start to be honest with others that you trust when you don’t know something, when you are struggling and when you need help – us perfectionists like to go it alone but we miss out on the support of our team and the feeling of being in this together.

* Practise daily self-compassion – in your thoughts, words and actions.

* Give yourself permission to do things that are good enough. If you wait for perfection you’ll never get it done.

* Totally own your strengths as a teacher, be that curriculum knowledge, personal characteristics or the rapport you have with your students. Be proud of these and conversely accept the areas of your professional life where you have a few cracks (one of mine being desk tidiness – but I take great comfort in the memory of a sign on my Year 4 teacher ‘s desk reading: a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind….).

The weight of this armour is crippling…start to take it off, one layer at a time so that you can walk freely again and appreciate and embrace your perfectly imperfect self.

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Sustainability (for the soul)

reapYour practice and effort determine your reward – you totally reap what you sow!

I have sustainability on my mind at the moment having received a grant for $1000 to bring my vegie garden / sustainability project dreams out of my head and into reality. Having never grown a vegetable in my life (surely eating loads of them counts?!) I am truly spending this year stepping out of my comfort zone. So it got me thinking about that word….SUSTAINABLE…and what practices might be high on the list for ensuring teachers have longevity (and joy) in their careers, rather than just applied as an environmental buzz word.

Here are my current personal sustainability practices:

  • Rest when tired – I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it, don’t push through. I need constant reminders of this but it is so important and always works.
  • Work on something that lights a fire in your belly (like a pot belly stove sustaining you through a chilly winter) – no more “grinding” through tasks. In Nischala Joy Devi’s translation of the Yoga Sutras she interprets Patanjali in Sutra I.39 as saying:

“Dedicate yourself to anything that elevates and embraces your heart”.

It can be hard to find time in our profession to dedicate to projects we are passionate about (whether for school or personally) but anything that elevates your heart will lift your energy too, supporting you on a daily basis.

  • Food that sustains – when I think of sustenance food immediately comes to mind. Eat well. You know how. Just pick a meal or snack to focus on making really healthy for a week or two before moving onto another. Natural = life giving.
  • Let something go – we cannot get everything done that we would like to. Let’s just accept it. Pick something that you feel is not at the top of the “must do” list and accept that it won’t happen (and that’s fine).
  • Prioritise tasks on a weekly (or daily) basis – that way you won’t get side-tracked by every little thing that pops up. You don’t have to reply to every email immediately.
  • Accept the present moment – where you are, where your kids are and where your colleagues are. We are all on our own learning journey. Decide what you have the ability to change and get to it (let the rest fly). Remember making a change takes more energy than continuing on as you have been but it will be worth it.
  • Get Strong – muscles sustain you. Strong body = strong mind. Exercise needs to be prioritised (especially in winter to combat lethargy).

I hope you will consider adopting your own sustainability practices to carry you on the journey and ensure your career is maintainable in the long run.

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Tips for Surviving Report Writing

cupIt’s that time of year again – thought it might be good to re-post this one! Here are some things you might like to try as you write your reports this term so that you do not need the first week of holidays to recover:

1) Create (and stick to) a simple timetable for completion so that the workload is spread out over a few weeks and you are not leaving them ALL until the last minute and have to pull an all-nighter (not mentioning any names here but you know who you are). I write mine down to the wire in terms of when they are due but I never pull all-nighters – I’d never recover. I spread them out.

2) Try to work in 50 minute blocks of time with a 10 minute break in between each block where you leave the computer, rather than working for hours at a time. The break will refresh your brain and you will return clearer and re-energised and will actually achieve more in your time frame.

3) Fuel your brain with protein, good fats and loads of veggies. If you normally have a bowl of lollies and chocolates on hand to “fuel” you, try nuts, water or a healthy smoothie to keep the fire burning longer. Sugar will keep you in a cycle of extreme highs and lows – we want stability and balance at this stressful time.

3) Get 8 hours sleep EVERY night (I am writing in capitals to myself here!)

4) Try and move your body every day, even when you are tired (especially when you are tired). It will relieve your tiredness and clear your head. Just aim for 15 minutes which is just over 1% of your day – totally doable. Yoga is great for bringing you back into your body after the mental activity required to write reports.

5) Keep your water intake up – this is my Achilles heel and people who know me are often surprised to learn I don’t drink enough water. But I know when I’m feeling foggy it’s because I’m dehydrated. My goal is 1.5 litres a day and herbal teas are great for upping the beneficial liquid (avoid juices and soft drinks – sugar laden!)

6) Maybe you could try writing your reports in a location you have never written in before e.g. at a cafe; down at the beach; in a park by the river – just tote your laptop. Sunlight causes the brain to produce endorphins which will lift your mood. Of course this may be a ridiculous notion if you are someone who needs paperwork or samples close by to refer to as you write but it’s just a thought – I know I could write my report comments in such a setting.

7) To bring your inner wisdom and true presence to the fore as you write, try a little meditation before each report writing session. This is as simple as 5 minutes of breath awareness with your hands on your heart and diaphragm.

Happy writing!

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5 Ways to Calm Your Nervous System

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I recently read (in the book The Wisdom of Yoga by Stephen Cope):

“The shape, look and feel of this world is actually a function of our own nervous system”.

This encapsulates my own experience so vividly. My nervous system was headed for a breakdown and the look and feel of my world at that point matched this malfunction. At the lowest points in my struggles I was barely sleeping each night and experiencing strong muscle twitching and jerking in my limbs – surely a sign of my sympathetic nervous system (the “fight or flight” part) being in overdrive. In Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) such symptoms would constitute a “Vata Derangement” – in other words a whacked out nervous system!

Here are my tips for soothing your brain, spine and of course, in turn, your nerves – the central components of your nervous system. All of these things have worked wonders for me and I feel it when I don’t adhere to these guidelines.

1) Do abdominal breathing / relaxation / meditation. Some people find it hard to sit in meditation. It took me 15 years of yoga postures before I finally sat for more than 10 minutes, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t sit! An alternative is laying on your back with your hands on your belly, breathing deeply and raising the belly with each breath. Don’t let your chest rise – it’s harder than it sounds. Abdominal breathing activates the soothing and calming parasympathetic wing of the nervous system. Making your exhale long and slow increases the benefits.

2) Eat “grounding” foods. The following foods are recommended for those with a “Vata Defect”!

Protein and omega 3 oils such as fish oil (or if you are vegetarian like me you can use a combination of flax oil and DHA from algae).

Avoid refined sugar and flour

Dairy, eggs, nut and seed butters

Sesame oil and ghee added to cooked foods

Cooked vegetables (salads are to be avoided as they are too light but if you can’t resist use an oily dressing)

3) Do yoga poses that increase blood flow to the brain or involve a “chin lock”. These activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm the brain. Poses in which you bend forward, invert or lay back over bolsters are beauties.

4) Cut stimulants such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Alcohol deprives the brain of oxygen – the buzz is the feeling of neurons drowning.

5) Get regular exercise and more sleep. If you’re ill, stressed or working hard you need more sleep! (Hint: report writing begins soon – rest up).

As Dr Robert Svoboda, a renowned Ayurvedic doctor says:

It is easiest to harmonise the body-mind-spirit complex by starting with the body….balance of the mind and spirit…comes more easily once the body has been made firm and healthy.”

A healthy nervous system = a healthy and happy you and a different world to enjoy!

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Listening to your Body

feetI have spent almost 15 years practising yoga asana (postures) and over that time have felt the benefits immensely in terms of strength, flexibility and a feeling of spaciousness in the body and mind. But perhaps the most distinctive gain felt has been the deep connection that has developed with every part of my body – a sense of being in my body rather than in my head (which is my natural tendency). Obviously the amount of time I dedicate to practice affects the overall advantages received week to week – that is why it is called “practice”, it’s a daily routine.

I have spent much of the last week living in my head – not in my body. Not grounded. Generally off centre. My practice not taking place as much as it should.

Donna Farhi says:

‘When we are not in our bodies, we are dissociated from our instincts, intuitions, feelings and insights.’

I have definitely found this to be true. Our profession demands many hours of thinking and reflecting each day and with ‘To Do’ lists that tend to get bigger rather than smaller we try to push through – spending too long on the computer (a major energy sapper), not making time every day for exercise, eating on the run and ignoring tiredness.

After a week of ignoring it, I finally decided to listen to my body which was giving me a warning in the form of some fairly intense back pain. As a result (I see now) I could not connect to my intuition nor have insight into the nature of my reactions to certain situations and people – something I had become particularly adept at. I was getting in a flap about ridiculous things. I needed a reminder of how deeply connected our body, mind and spirit are. We can’t ignore one without experiencing repercussions in the other two.

Listening to our bodies is a way of tapping into our inherent wisdom. The wisdom that tells us what we should do when we are confused. The wisdom that helps us make the right choice. The wisdom that assures us that everything is going to be okay. I know from experience that when my body is strong my mind and spirit are strong and nothing much can knock me off centre. When I neglect to prioritise my physical fitness everything else is weakened.

The more my meditation practice has deepened over the past 9 months I have prioritised this – getting up at 5:30am to meditate then doing my yoga practice before my daughter rises. As body, mind and spirit are connected the practices that strengthen and support each aspect of our being must be balanced in order that we don’t de-centre another part of our self. I’d forgotten that of late.

If we are detached from our feelings we cannot have clarity around issues – positive or negative – that are cropping up in our life and causing an emotional response. We will live in a way that finds us at the mercy of our environment rather than strong and centred in the inner stillness of our body and heart. Being at the mercy of a class full of students can be soul destroying, hence our greater need to stay connected to our body.

Donna explains further:

‘The insidious ways in which we become numb to our bodily experience and the feelings and perceptions that arise from them leave us powerless to know who we are, what we believe in and what kind of world we wish to create.’

When we look at our connection to our bodies as being so significant as to affect the kind of world we live in – prioritising exercise / movement that relieves the numbness and awakens our body is a matter of global urgency not just of personal health. Body awareness helps us to connect with who we are and what truly matters – inside and outside the classroom. When we reunite with our body we let it guide us in the only direction it knows – towards the truth.

Ways to reconnect to our body to let it guide us (a reminder for us all):

  • Move your body everyday (first thing in the morning before excuses creep in).
  • Sit in stillness every day to let your body speak.
  • Connect to the Earth every day – which is where your body came from. This might be as simple as walking in bare feet on the grass, sinking your feet into the sand, sitting under a tree or taking a dip in the ocean.
  • Nominate some device free days / nights and stick to them.
  • Breathe deeply and consciously.
  • Practice yoga postures and meditate (see my post on Inner Listening for a guided breathing meditation that will leave you grounded).
  • Eat mostly food that comes from nature.
  • Make small changes to your routine to prioritise any of the above.

It is through small changes such as these that gradually profound changes eventuate. Have you been listening to your body this term?

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Related post: Inner Listening – Connect Back to Your Body Oct 23 2014

https://centredteacher.com/2014/10/23/inner-listening-connect-back-to-your-body/

Trust Yourself to Achieve Unexpected Outcomes

trust yourself

‘…choose to see the outward forms as poor substitutions for your true nature and you’ll begin to live without attachment to those forms.’

Trust first and foremost in yourself.

Wayne Dyer

I’ve spent a long time feeling that being a teacher was not enough. It didn’t hold enough status, I didn’t earn enough money, I wasn’t outwardly successful enough in terms of possessions or salary. I was somehow not as worthy as a doctor or lawyer. No one ever said this to me directly but of course we all feel the judgements of others fairly regularly in term of comments on the hours we work, how many holidays we have and the old crack about “those who can’t do, teach”.

I was so attached to the idea that I was not living up to anybody’s expectations that it became difficult to take responsibility for anything. But I’ve come to realise what an illusion these ideas are.

Ours is a profession of honour.

Of meaning and magic.

Of heart and heroism.

A sacred vocation in which we have the power to make positive change.

We measure our worth as a teacher by how well our students are performing, how much we achieved in a lesson, by the outcomes we set out to reach. Could we shift the measure of our success to the joy and peace we (and our students) experience daily? How well we model for our students a healthy and balanced mental and psychological state? How easily we give love to our students and to ourselves? How we interact and respond to their needs and accept them as they are – without wanting to change them too much?

With so many pressures and so much accountability I think some of us have stopped trusting ourselves. We are finding it hard to hear our own inner voice.

Anything you aspire to or covet in the material world of “outward forms” will never compare to the grandeur that you’ll find inside – and this is true for our students also. Trust that you know what your students need from the wisdom of your true nature. Watch your own thoughts that might be judging or attached to certain outcomes (Why didn’t I get that finished today?……She shouldn’t be behaving that way…).

Listen to your heart.

If you can set aside some time each day to go inward you will reap the benefits and the wisdom in your heart will be easier to hear. In the world that we currently inhabit this is not an easy task. We are made to feel that what we are or do is never enough, that we are falling short in some way. But the truth is we don’t need anything else to make us whole or better. We have everything we need inside – we just have to access it by peeling back the years of conditioning that have us believe otherwise. Wouldn’t it be great to save our students from years of shedding – that they could just know this from NOW and have a sense of self that could withstand any outward forms that they encounter.

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Valuing Ourselves

Soar above
Soar above the opinions of others…

I hit a bit of a rough patch this week. I felt rushed and a bit anxious. I could feel my blood pressure rise when I had numerous interruptions to my mathematics lesson and then my interactive whiteboard stopped working. I heard myself say “I shouldn’t have even got out of bed this morning”. On the same day a good friend posted on The Centred Teacher Facebook page about the struggles she was facing, juggling the demands of the classroom (and the 25 or so souls she is nurturing there) with her own family and health needs.

We have both been teachers for 13 years. We are both compassionate and dedicated. We both put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We are both deserving of and in fact NEED to have downtime, time with our own children, time to do what makes our heart sing – to recalibrate so that we can keep on giving.

But this week (and possibly the weeks prior) we weren’t giving that to ourselves. We are the only ones who can change that.

What finally lifted me out of this 24 hour state of “blahness” was the following:

  • A new perspective: at the time, the whiteboard pen not working was a major catastrophe but in the scheme of things going on in the world it was insignificant. My lesson changed but the kids still learnt what they needed to (or maybe didn’t). Try and see the challenges of your day within a bigger picture and maybe even with some humour.
  • Gratitude: I went home and wrote down 5 things I was grateful for. If we focus on the negative we start to only see negativity as it keeps showing up in our life. By focusing on the beauty of my life that I sometimes take for granted I tend to see more beauty.
  • Making chicken noises with my class: this was done to imitate a character in a book we were reading – it made us all laugh and we ALL loved it.
  • Meditation – silence and breathing calm the nervous system and bring us back to a state of centredness where we can connect with what we know to be true.
  • This insight from Dr Wayne Dyer:

 ‘It’s crucial to remain independent of both the positive and negative opinions of others. Regardless of whether they love us or despise us, if we make their assessments more important than our own we will be greatly afflicted.’

We worry what people will think if we leave at 3:30pm some days to go for a surf or swim. We worry that others will consider us slacking off if we voice our concerns about how much is being asked of us. We are boosted and love it when a parent or another teacher praise or affirm what we are doing. But how often do we praise and affirm ourselves?

We want to be seen to be doing our best and giving 100% to the students in our care but giving 100% leaves nothing left for ourselves. Maybe this week we can give 10% to ourselves – it’s not selfish. We are just as deserving as all the beautiful children in our lives of receiving our care.

It’s time to start making your own opinions of yourself more important than anyone else’s. Boost yourself with positive feedback. Tell yourself you are worthy of that nap or walk along the beach without feeling guilty. That does not mean you won’t listen to the opinions and feedback of others, it just means that no matter what they say you will stay true to your own inner voice knowing that you are doing a brilliant job.

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NB: When all else fails… chicken noises ALWAYS help.

Keys to Survival in the Teaching Profession

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It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change.

Charles Darwin

If you substitute “teachers” for “species”, Darwin’s wisdom applies seamlessly to current educational circumstances in which our brute strength and intelligence perhaps need to take a back seat. In a climate of unrelenting and at times uncomfortable educational change on a national, state, systemic, school, classroom and personal level it is not easy to survive!

In yoga we are urged to breathe through the discomfort of a pose in order to find an ease – an acceptance of that moment as it is – to become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. I like to think that the teachers who last in this profession have found a way to “rest in the pose”.

But what does being responsive to change mean in a practical sense? How can we “rest” in the variety of poses that we find ourselves in in teaching day to day?

To respond to something is very different to reacting to something. Can you become aware of situations in which you are reacting in an explosive way rather than responding with awareness and compassion? Reacting is closely related to overreacting (which never ends well).

Any change inevitably calls into question our current practice. I know that I find this incredibly unpleasant as I have a tendency to become defensive and self-righteous (a fine example of reacting rather than responding).

Wayne Dyer in his commentary on the Tao Te Ching (81 verses on the nature of our existence written by Lao Tzu in ancient China) asks us to notice an opportunity to defend or explain ourselves and choose not to. He says:

“Just be with what is…don’t get caught up with being right or wrong.”

I have been putting this into practice of late and while it’s difficult, in choosing not to defend I have found a more peaceful approach and am able to consider my response from a place of awareness and calm. If you are finding that certain changes in your workplace are making you uneasy or restless, try to feel the subtlety of this in your body. As in yoga, breathe your way through the initial discomfort and be aware that these signals may be out of proportion to what is actually happening. These changes are not all taking place in this very moment. Remind yourself of the changes that are now a normal part of your practice that you reacted to similarly in their initial stages.

After opening to these sensations, take a stand for yourself and resolve to deal with each change as it arises and makes itself present in your teaching life – you know you can handle it, one step at a time. Don’t think about every change all at once. Stay with what is occurring in the present.

In terms of ways to “rest” in the teaching profession some ideas are:

  • Keep tabs on your internal slave driver as well as perfectionistic tendencies and notice when they are trying to take the wheel. Accept imperfection as a normal occurrence.
  • Literally rest each day but particularly when there is increased stress or pressure.
  • Accept it when you don’t get through what you had planned rather than beating yourself up – there’s always tomorrow.
  • Switch off – your brain over the weekend as well as your phone, computer and TV regularly. Listen to music, read for pleasure, practice Yoga Nidra – to recalibrate and renew energy.

I posit then that responding with a positive and self-nurturing acceptance as well as “resting in the pose”, may just be the key to our survival as educators.

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Accepting Each Moment

accepting each momentMy last post was about accepting life in order to change. I would like to delve a little deeper into the practice of acceptance using some strategies and ideas developed by Rick Hanson whose ‘Foundations of Wellbeing’ course I am currently undertaking.

The first step towards accepting your life as it is in each moment is to identify or recognise what you are not accepting. Sometimes this is really challenging because we experience the world through a filter – our mind is conditioned in its interpretations, responses and reactions. It can take great courage and clarity to see things as they really are and to accept that you are responsible for where you find yourself today.

For me the first step towards this clarity was stillness. Sitting in stillness gave me the space to be honest – there was nowhere to hide.

A clue to identifying non-acceptance of something in your life is any kind of anger or righteousness. You will feel this in your body as a physiological response to a situation or person.

Once identified repeat to yourself:

“It’s true that…”

“I surrender to the fact that…”

Hanson suggests ‘lowering your standards for others while raising them for yourself. Not by being more critical of yourself but rather being less critical of others and more focussed on raising your own level of wellbeing and functioning.’

In a work environment that is largely based on human interactions this advice has massive implications for our inner peace and daily interactions with others. So often we default into blaming, judging or criticising others when they don’t live up to our lofty expectations. Collaboration is becoming all the more necessary and vital to student achievement and our teams are made up of diverse personalities and backgrounds. We often struggle against this wonderful mix when people are not exactly like us. If we shift the focus to improving our own functioning while accepting others as they are our wellbeing is raised. When you stop resisting colleagues, students, situations and emotions it starts feeling less difficult.

Accepting difficulties (while making plans to improve the situation) is a lot more peaceful than getting aggravated by them. We forget that we have a choice in how we respond. Can you identify one thing that you wish were different, that you may need to approach with greater acceptance?

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