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Understanding what is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice which emphasises bringing self-awareness in the present moment. Research suggests focusing on “pause” and “notice”, where brain activity enters the non-distracted mode, thereby focusing entirely upon the present moment. This practice encourages the uninterrupted connection of the mind to the body. According to Kabat-Zinn, 1994, mindfulness is all about “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.

Teachers’ Enemy: Stress and Burnout

The classroom atmosphere and teachers’ performances are positively correlated in most cases. Stress and Burnout occur with teachers when they face scenarios which interrupt and derail their teaching on a daily basis. This may be mostly due to uncontrollable fights, arguments, nonstop talking, student hyperactivity and inattentiveness among students. Overwhelming workload and pressure from management are all causes of burnout. Burnout is critical and negatively affects teachers’ performance and overall health.

Teachers eventually succumb to their inability to deal with stress and emotional instability. These negative experiences disturb their efficiency and drive them to a state of distraction. Initially, they start avoiding school and when they show up their lessons are not properly planned. Teachers experiencing burnout typically mishandle classroom activities, ignore deadlines, avoid meet-ups or interactions with colleagues. It is highly recommended that teachers indulge in mindfulness practices to avoid burnout and improve their overall mental and physiological wellbeing.

Mindfulness Practice and Effect on Teachers’ Performance level

In the 1970s, Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) technique for treating patients facing problems in their lives or people who have some mental illness or Physiological diseases/disorder (Kabat-Zinn, 2013). Mindfulness practice encourages undisrupted breathing techniques to pull your senses to the present moment. Mindful Awareness means living in the present, which makes us more proactive and able to take control of difficult situations. Researchers have documented the positive effect of mindfulness among teachers who practice this technique in their daily routine. Its practice enabled them to make decisions or take actions in a calmer state and motivated them to attend to each student’s needs wisely. In a study conducted by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at UW–Madison’s Waisman Center, researchers found that those teachers who were undergoing the mindfulness training had decreased levels of psychological stress, improved classroom organisational skills and enhanced self-compassion. This technique mainly involves focusing on our own breathing and physiological perceptions.

Combating Mental Chaos through Daily Mindfulness Practice

According to Kabat-Zinn (1994), you must practice mindfulness in such a way that your attention is non-judgmental. He emphasised that successful practice involves focus particularly on the “here” and “now”, by not getting distracted which involves overthinking about the past or the future, secondly consciously taking actions in accordance with the steps needed in certain situations and lastly not letting your emotions get in the way of perceiving each moment. Mindfulness is beneficial for teachers who struggle with daily stress. Improve your day by forming the habit of setting aside at least  15 minutes each day for mindfulness practice. You deserve it.

By: Dr Suhana Syed Burhan (PhD)