M1S1 Self-Awareness, Mindfulness, & You

Welcome back! At our first session we welcomed several new members. I am so looking forward to our year together.

We began with introductions and a guided practice I call "Just Breathe". Find a description of "Just Breathe" in our Practice List on the B-COME portal.

I presented an overview of our B-COME curriculum for this year, which is organized around CASEL's five core competencies of social emotional learning. We talked briefly about the ways that academics compare and contrast mindfulness and SEL, with one of the most common being that mindfulness-based practices are said to have an "inside-out" approach and SEL programs teach from an "outside-in" perspective. For our purposes, it seems the salient feature in both mindfulness and SEL work is that they both honor the "non-cognitive" aspects of being. On the most straightforward level, these five competencies, offer us five different contexts in which we can apply a mindful presence and investigate gradually more and more complex modules as the year progresses. These will form our five modules. Each module will have three sessions, addressing self, students, and research.

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I also shared some of the guiding questions that will shape our year:

  • How can mindfulness practices support our school’s commitment to social-emotional learning?

  • What is the relationship between “self-oriented” practices and our interactions with others?

  • Is mindfulness a “state” or a “trait”?

  • Does mindfulness necessarily lead to pro-social behaviors? If so, how? If not, why not?

  • What are my own mental habits?

  • How can my students benefit from this work?

  • What does it feel like in my own life to "develop a personal practice"? What level of discipline is the right challenge for me?

  • Which types of practices do I feel I can share with students from a place of authenticity?

Participants were invited to share information about their summer successes and challenges with continuing mindfulness practices. One participant alluded to a difference in "rhythm" between summer and school year and I'm sure most of us could relate. A helpful way to cultivate mindfulness in one season, stage of life or mindset, could be utterly useless in another. Although consistency and discipline has value, rigidity is the antithesis of mindful self-awareness. Recognizing our tendencies and accurately assessing ourselves, is an ongoing process. CASEL describes self-awareness as: "The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a 'growth mindset.' "

I was curious to hear from you about the levels of support, stress, change, or flexibility you have this year. While the immediate school climate feels supportive, some participants expressed that there are external forces that feel less so. I invite you to explore whether articulating this even more explicitly with close friends or a journal could help you plan your internal response to related stresses as they arise. When I find myself preparing for an encounter that I know is unlikely to feel supportive in the ways I value, I find that practicing my own self-talk beforehand dulls the intensity of the encounter, and I can let more of the frustration roll off my back.  

Finally, we closed with a playful balance challenge as a physical reminder of how NECESSARY re-calibration is to attain balance. Going into these next few weeks of Self-Awareness practices, my wish is that you remain curious about who you are to be able to re-calibrate practices, habits, and goals to meet the you who you are right now, not the you of yesterday! 

Before our next meeting on Tuesday September 4th at 3:15pm, try to practice the "Just Breathe" meditation for 5 minutes every day and read this article for discussion next time! I will link the article in the Reading List section of the main portal area as well.