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The importance of Mindfulness

Newly qualified teacher of History, Tilly Reed, writes her second blog reflecting on the importance of having 'mindful moments' at Leeds West Academy.

We spend a lot of time looking forward. The events of tomorrow, next week, next term, and next year battle for priority in our busy days. Paradoxically, we also spend a lot of time looking backwards. The events of yesterday, last week, last term, and last year can play on our minds as we carefully plan the time we will spend with our students. We worry what could have gone better in our last lesson, and how to improve for next time. We ponder over the grades we have just collected, and where they will be at the next collection point. We wonder who our students were in the past, and who they will become in the future.

As we learn from the past and plan for the future it is easy to lose track of the present. Combining this with work in a vibrant and busy school, makes for days which rush by in the blink of an eye. This year I have found carving out time in the day to stop and notice the positives has really helped me.

During form time I have introduced 7MRD to five minute meditation. I use youtube clips which guide students through a ‘mindful moment’, and encourage motivational thoughts. It helps them to notice the moment they are in; their breathing, their senses, their thoughts, and their feelings. I have found that this time to ‘check in’ has provided a peaceful and calming start to the day. 7MRD have displayed a very mature approach to our mindful sessions. I realise it was 8.30am but I’m going to stick with the ‘mature approach’ line as opposed to ‘mindfully asleep’…

Meditation may not always be realistic. We don’t have time to escape to a Tibetan mountain top during one PPA. However, a wonderful organisation called ‘Action for Happiness’ introduced me to an achievable and effective idea called ‘3 good things.’ It helps everybody to use mindfulness and realise the positive moments in each day. It simply asks for people to write down 3 good things that happened during the day. It has brought my attention to so many wonderful moments which may have otherwise been forgotten, had I not taken the time to write them down.

Once you are in the habit of writing ‘3 good things’ from your day (on a post-it note, your twitter, the back of a terry’s chocolate orange box) you will begin to notice the positive moments naturally. The process of writing ‘3 good things’ becomes easier, as you have already noted the good in your day as it happened. It prevents you from dwelling too much on the things we can’t control, like yesterday and tomorrow. It also steers you away from replaying negative moments, which may cloud the judgement of an entire day.

Every Friday in 7MRD we have been writing ‘5 good things’ that happened during the week. At first students found this challenging. If we don’t train ourselves to be mindful of the positives, we lean towards the negatives. However, students are now in the habit of seeking out the positives. They are great at noticing their strengths and best moments during the week. The students can easily write more than 5 points for the week, and the energy in the room lifts as they share their personal highlights.

My challenge to anyone reading this blog is to write down your ‘3 good things’ and share the idea with one more person. Celebrate the positive moments you have been part of today.


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