For today's NCSCvirtual wrap-up series, I'm sharing tips from my session: Staying Grounded: Implementing and Practicing Trauma-Informed Mindfulness. In this workshop, we learned how the application of mindfulness might help navigate our new reality to stay afloat long enough to, eventually, swim to the shore.  

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is acceptance of what is happening in any given moment, without trying to change it. It is the ability to build awareness around what is happening and make choices about HOW to respond. Simply put, mindfulness provides space, space for us to connect with ourselves, listen, and then act with wisdom. There are many ways that mindfulness can show up in your life. It could be setting yourself apart for a 30-minute meditation or following your breathing patterns for 2-minutes, or paying attention to what you are eating during a meal. Mindfulness is not a specific act; it is a quality of being that you can bring to everything you do. It is a process of honoring your humanity and preparing the body and mind for learning and connecting.  

As we re-enter virtual or in-person classrooms, how will you make space for your imperfections and those of your colleagues and students?

Be. The. Space. Build the Space in DAILY.

Research shows that with simple mindful moments incorporated into your day, increase your ability to be more adaptive and cognitively flexible. Ultimately, we perceive fewer stressors as threats. This shift in perspective allows us to return to the social engagement space.

Here’s a practice to try alone or with your students:

  1. Take a moment to settle in your seat. Notice all the places where your body is in contact with the floor or chair.
  2. Pay attention to any sensations in your body, tingling, tightness, discomfort.
  3. Allow your eyes to close, if that feels comfortable. You can also lower your gaze so that you are looking toward the floor.
  4. Notice what is happening in your mind. Is it filled with thoughts? Can you let them settle for the next two minutes knowing that you can go back to dealing with them when the two minutes are up? 
  5. Take a deep breath and make space for any sensations. Bring some kindness to those areas. Take a deep breath and make space for your busy mind. It is OK if you are having a hard time settling.
  6. Continue to breathe. Each time you breathe in, silently say the word “in.” Each time you breathe out, silently say the word “out.”
  7. After 2 minutes, gently open your eyes. Notice how you are feeling at this moment. Commit to carrying this with you until your next mindful moment.

Simple practices like these and moments where we can feel our feet on the ground and take a deep breath can be a life-saver. Mindfulness provides you tools and space to stay afloat. The shore is visible. Let us swim together. 

You can watch the recording of my session on-demand here. Please use the email that you used to register for the conference to access the session. If you did not participate in NCSCvirtual and would like to watch the session, please click here.  

Tawanna Kane is founder of Inner Resources Project. She has created stress reduction and mindfulness curricula for public school systems, hospitals, research studies, juvenile halls, level III schools and other general adult populations throughout the US.