We spend the vast majority of our time keeping ourselves ‘busy’, and school life reflects this. The need to achieve, succeed and be constantly doing something has defined the way we live as human beings. Speaking to a group of teachers recently, there was a realisation that almost every moment in school was dedicated to the pursuit of something that could be ticked off – whether it be a target, standard or objective.
During lockdown, many of us found a much slower pace of life which allowed us more space and time to be present. There were also those of us who didn’t, and yearned for greater freedom and peace amongst the chaos of trying to juggle so many aspects of life, as they collided in one place.
Whichever camp we fell into, we all agreed on the need for change and questioned what we valued most.
We felt a need for greater focus on what is most important in our lives. A need to instil this into our children as early on as possible. And a need to pause, notice and accept what happens, as part of our human experience. It was the first time that many of us felt out of control, unable to plan ahead and living a day-to-day existence.
Mindfulness is about becoming more aware of what we encounter as human beings – awareness of ourselves, our experience, our bodies, our thoughts and feelings, those people and places around us. It isn’t about changing the human experience we have, but acknowledging the ‘okayness’ of it all; that we are all innately okay.
If we start from this perspective, we naturally adjust the way we encounter other human beings, as we accept that, deep down, we all have a ‘joy default’. We also adjust the way we view mental wellbeing, as we accept that none of us are ‘broken’ or in need of fixing, but that we can nurture and protect our own and each others’ wellbeing through acceptance, compassion and love.
These ideas are not new, and are ingrained in many ancient belief systems and philosophies. But, up until now, our education system has failed to address this essential understanding, or build in the time and space to breathe, focus, move, create, play and meditate.
Mindfulness (and Mindful Magic’s ethos in particular) integrates these opportunities as fundamental components to any school curriculum. The importance if in providing the whole school community with the chance to experience their innate joy, without any ulterior motive. This then enables students, teachers, staff and parents to accept their human experience for what it is, and trust their instincts with action they want to take moving forward.
Instead of being led by a fear-based system that finds problems and scape-goats, and instils blame, anger and hate, we can look towards a way of being that prioritises kindness, compassion, empathy, and creativity.
We talk about ‘living in the present’ and building in mindfulness to our everyday lives, but it isn’t until we understand the value of doing so (which has become starker than ever) that the value of being mindful can really be felt.