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Mindful : October 2015
Mindfulness teaches students like Yosselin Castillo-Maldonado and Caliah Timpson- Hogue, above, how to relax and recognize their bodies’ needs and limits. They learn techniques for settling down when stressed or angry. One student at Baker-Butler said, “Being mindful to me means that you are calm and relaxed and it helps you not to be nervous.” Another student said, “It will probably help me much more next year and all of my life.” Ironically, the change in thinking may be most possible when we stop anxiously striving for solutions. When we feel pressured to solve a problem, often our emotions get in the way. Neg- ative emotions can distort and limit our thinking. When we mindfully experience the fullness of the present moment, a multitude of possibilities arise spontaneously, without effort. When we widen our perspective, our mind makes connec- tions that we didn’t realize existed before. MIT professor Otto Scharmer calls this pro- cess of accessing potentiality “presencing.” He describes it as the capacity to allow the future to emerge spontaneously. According to Scharmer, we have collectively failed to solve our problems because of a blind spot that blocks our ability to recognize the inner source from which trans- formational change can emerge. When a team of individuals connects in this inner space, it begins to operate at a higher level as “an inten- tional vehicle for an emerging future.” I believe that through practicing mindful awareness, we cultivate a connection with this source. In the present moment, we experience the fullness of this future potentiality and can set our intention, like a compass, to align our actions with the future we envision. When we aren’t fixated in a mental construction of reality that exists in our memory of the past or our hopes and fears for the future, anything is possi- ble. From this state of calm but clear awareness comes unexpected ingenuity. With this new understanding, we can shift the focus of education from the accumulation of knowledge to the cultivation of understanding, wisdom, meaningfulness, and a sense of shared humanity. We can generate a deep sense of care and compassion for our fellow human beings around the globe. We have all the tools at our disposal to change the way we live to be sustain- able and morally and ethically just. The skillful application of mindful awareness can help us cultivate the collective will. As we recognize our interdependence, we can see that we have no choice but to broaden our narrow focus beyond our individual wants and needs. ● Excerpted a nd adapted from Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom © Patricia A. Jennings, 2015. Used by permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Compa ny. October 2015 mindful 57