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Cultivating Happiness and Joy

So I am almost half way through a two-year online course on mindfulness and mediation.

This content has been so nourishing for my wellbeing - I absolutely love it and I love learning.

This month it was my turn to host a mediation for my peer group on cultivating happiness and joy for ourselves. We were asked to really examine the times when we are experiencing joy and happiness.

This alone has blown my mind! Being able to spend time examining and studying this concept  was not introduced into my sphere of learning as a child or adult. And yet this is so powerful in supporting our mental health and the psychology behind it.

What I found really interesting was Rick Hanson’s share on how our brains are programmed to shift more to the negative bias thinking and how, when we do experience something positive, it becomes such a fleeting sensation for us humans - we are not wired to give it importance. This brought up so many thoughts about myself and all our ancestral conditioning into this thinking pattern.

Though behind it is fear - the negative thinking bias is fear - and what that does to our perception of ourselves & the world we live in with our daily interactions and  all of our decisions and opinions. 

Within the  philosophy class of my yoga teacher training the swami shared with us that we are only ever operating from two emotions: FEAR and LOVE

.  They are the scaffolding for all the other emotions and feelings. Ram Dass, a spiritual teacher also speaks about these two main operating systems that we work from to navigate our lives.

The more I stay on the path of self development the more I understand that ‘unlearning’ has to happen in order to learn new ways of being to expand your understanding. 

The paradox of it all, you have to laugh.

The analogy that comes to mind is the sea waves washing up on the shore and taking some debris out while the waves erode some stones to create the sand. It always comes back to the ocean - the depth of the ocean, an undiscovered world.

Thoughts from the Thoughtful Wave.

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Anxiety Mondays

This thought returns to my mind a lot.

The anxiety experienced on a Monday is exceptionally higher than any other week day, so it seems within schools.

Especially experienced within the school and even more so from the teachers - I cant speak about other working environments as this has been my world for the last 13 yrs.

Perhaps it is something that is experienced across the UK in general in most workplaces, and perhaps it's an international working experience.

I wonder what that does for us as a collective?

Breaking this into strands makes me think about what it is that we fear, particularly on Mondays, the first day of our working week.

Is it purely the uncertainty of the week?

For teachers, is it hoping that the staff and children don't challenge us too much and we don't have to dig deep on resourcing (self care) for ourselves.

In schools there is a constant flow of supply staff that come into the classrooms. This is very challenging for the children and permanent staff.

I wonder how we accept this structure?

Cultivating anything positively comes from empowering from the bottom up and I know schools run briefings in the morning. An idealistic thought of mine would be getting the staff to breathe together on Monday on top of what needs to be addressed.

I know one Head who cleverly addresses what needs pulling up with a more positive spin and thanks her staff in advance for the changes that need to be made - she is empowering her staff.

Management can really transform the experience for the teachers and the overall wellbeing of the staff and the children. It can be as simple as a “thank you” in advance.

Set that week up right - Empower the staff.

We must drink as we pour

Then my thoughts go to… if your classroom teacher is in an internal meltdown (high levels of anxiety), often on a Monday - how does that impact the children in the room?

Children are exceptionally sensitive beings; they can feel things before they find the language to express them.

They will feel this anxiety from their teacher and that can produce more challenging behaviour on top of what they are personally managing themselves on a Monday.

How can we nurture and support everyone's well being - especially on a Monday - Anxiety Mondays.

Don't forget to Breathe - one breath at a time.


Thoughts From - The Thoughtful Wave.

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This week I returned to sharing my classes in schools across London and I have such mixed feelings about this new academic year.

The last year really took it out of me and come July I thought I was on the verge of an emotional burnout - so I really slowed down over the summer with my in-person work.

I spoke to a number of teachers about this last academic year and we all agreed this was a challenging year, but not being able to be specific as to why. Although we all suspect it was mostly because it was the first year back from going through the pandemic. The children seemed to be suffering so much more with anxiety - I witnessed children as young as 11 and 12 coming to the staff with panic attacks. Worryingly, according to staff this was the norm during the first half of the year. The norm?

Not only should that not be ‘normal’, it made me question whether or not staff are equipped to manage the kinds of mental health issues that the children were experiencing. Staff were putting children in a room and finding another staff member who could sit with them - is sitting with them enough?

My thoughts went to the teachers and how little their PGCE training (post graduate certificate in education) covers on psychology and mental health in the classroom.

Where do teachers draw their knowledge from to manage these issues?

Most of the time, it’s from how they were shown from their own parents, or from older, or first aider staff members. Perhaps there are a minority of schools that might do some light training on this - but this is something I rarely hear of taking place.

So it’s a mixture of strategies and approaches - which then leads me to wonder who is actually regulating this - and can teachers just freestyle their own approaches? They do and I witness that - especially in less funded educational environments.

And I'm afraid to say it's even worse in the SEND schools, where there is minimal training around the mental health and psychology aspect of dealing with students needs.

This is our current reality in the schools but happily there is movement towards more training for the SEND schools - but it is moving at a very slow pace. In the meantime, what happens to the mental health of the students and staff? And where are schools and staff learning the skills they need to manage this for the children & themselves?

Working with children in the educational system becomes personal - working with behaviour with any human is personal - it's the human connection between us all. That's why therapists have therapists to counsel them through all this human connection!

I am definitely not finished on this topic……returning, frustrating thoughts.

Thoughts - from The Thoughtful Wave

Dartmoor 3 - Daniella Oviedo, The Mindful Beings Method
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