Mindfulness to be Practiced as Well as Taught, by Suzanne Martin '78, ICCS Mindfulness Teacher

One mid-June morning, before dawn, sitting on an outside stone bench in rural Mississippi cradling a cup of warm tea, I listened to a beautiful Vietnamese chant, indecipherable, but accompanied by a huge bell, a tone that penetrated the morning air and awakened my mindful self.  As a teacher of mindfulness, I will always be a student of mindfulness. While many think that teachers have three months off during the summer, they are often quite busy. In my first few weeks this summer, I was both a teacher and a student. 

The Martin Institute Conference, held on the campus of Presbyterian Day School, provides professional development for educators “centered on critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and brain-based research.”  At this year’s conference, The Heart and Soul of Teaching, June 9-10, I presented Cultivate Mindfulness for Effective Teaching to 30 teachers and administrators. The presentation was an introduction to mindfulness and its practice for the teachers themselves including instruction for mindful listening, breathing, movement, eating, being mindful of thoughts and emotions, and the science behind mindfulness. The session also included suggestions for introducing mindfulness into the classroom, using creative ways to help students strengthen their awareness, decrease stress, improve impulse control and cultivate more compassion and kindness. Teachers were introduced to resources, such as Mindful Schools, an organization that trains educators around the world in mindfulness, as well as print materials, websites and apps for ongoing development of a mindfulness practice. 

A week later, I became a student at Magnolia Grove Meditation Practice Center near Batesville, Miss. A group of 32 monks and nuns who dedicate their lives to mindfulness as an integral part of their practice of Buddhism presented Happy Teachers Will Change the World. During this four-day retreat, participants from several states practiced sitting meditation, deep relaxation, mindful eating, participated in group discussions, and listened to talks by the monastics as well as a video of Zen master Thích Nhất Hạnh specifically directed to teachers. This experience helped deepen my practice of mindfulness, allowing me to be more aware of each moment in my environment and within myself.  An authentic practice is the foundation for sharing mindfulness with students.

Suzanne Martin '75 is a Religion and Mindfulness teacher at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School. She has presented Mindfulness workshops and sessions for teachers for three years.

Pictured above: Suzanne Martin '78 (second from left) visits last month with her classmates at the Magnolia Grove Meditation Practice Center near Batesville, Miss., where she and her classmates attended a retreat on mindfulness.  Earlier in the month, Martin was a presenter at the Martin Institute Conference held at Presbyterian Day School.

Posted by June LaPorta at 1:59 PM
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