Mindful moments do not have to be a formal practice. You do not need to rest in a lotus position, sitting at a shrine, wearing nothing but orange to experience a mindful moment. Mindful moments can occur during the simplest of tasks - taking the register, hanging out the socks or making a cup of tea. Mindful moments are an opportunity to be present - not just to what you are doing, but to be present to the moment within the activity.
Whatever profession you are in; whether a teacher, a nurse or an architect; you will be more effective, productive and creative when you include a mindful practice into your working and personal life. A mindful practice can simply be a choice to pause each morning for a few moments before the frenetic rush of the day blasts you across the kitchen to snatch a cuppa and your keys as you head off to work. Obviously the more you embrace a Mindful life, the less likely you are to dash to work, or dash anywhere for that matter!
In recognition of just how challenging being mindful can be, especially in school, every August, I offer teachers around the world an opportunity to pause, take a breath and to steep in the moment with me - just for a few moments each day. For many, this may be the first occasion to truly stop and to rest in the stillness that is ever present in our lives if we but just take a moment to observe.
The value of taking just a few moments each day to pause, go inside and listen to the inner workings of your heart and mind; to recognise the magnificence of the breathing mechanism that animates you and to bask in the magnitude of your true self is immeasurable. When you gift yourself the time to be quiet, to watch your breath, to be still with what is - then you grant yourself riches far greater and longer lasting than gold.
As a teacher, I know that if I bring myself to the present moment before my class enter the room, I will emanate a light yet grounded and calm energy that will impact my teaching and my pupils' behaviour. I know that when I am fully present with my students and not fretting about the meeting after school or the 200 or so reports I have yet to write, I will give a great lesson and attend to the needs of my students with openness and compassion.
As you may imagine, whether you are in a classroom setting or not (you could be at home, in the office or in traffic) and someone behaves in a manner that is aggressive or unpleasant, it is likely you will react. Our DNA is programmed to keep us safe, so the flight or fight mechanism is a natural occurrence. However, when you are mindful and practise mindfulness on a daily basis, it is so much easier to respond more healthily to the unexpected incident.
Not only will you be a happier, healthier person, you are more likely to connect with a deeper sense of inner peace and joy. Your levels of compassion not only increase for others but also and perhaps most importantly, increase for yourself. In a world where success, money, position and power is everything, it is easy to see how the inner critic can grow into a demonic force that pushes and shoves you around judging your every thought and action, success and perceived failure. When embracing a more mindful way of life, the critical thoughts may still arise, however they can be gently reassured with compassion, light heartedness and acceptance.
Rather than being critical you can be curious... "How interesting, I'm feeling really jealous right now..." "How curious, I notice there's rage building up in my belly..." "How intriguing, I feel so nervous my whole body feels like a cymbal that's been whacked..." You can honour what is, rather than try to deny it or push it away.
So this is the magic of mindfulness. In fact, this is just a tiny taste of the wonders of being mindful, bringing yourself to a place of innocence and being present to the beauty and majesty of yourself and your life. If you choose to invest in yourself, start with a gentle mindful moment. It will serve your heart, mind and body. It will help you feel happier, more confident and relaxed. And if you are a teacher, you will be spreading the magic of mindfulness simply by being a living breathing example.