Pulled in A Hundred and One DirectionsMar 10, 2021
Do you ever feel that you need at least 2 heads and 8 arms? The demands of being a teacher are limitless and inundating. Meeting the various academic, social and emotional needs of 25 or so students is enough, but then add on assessments, report cards, countless committees, clubs, communication with parents, planning, meeting administrator expectations, professional learning, and the list goes on.
It is definitely a job that requires a multitude of both soft and hard skills as well as the abilities of being highly organized and engaging….all while maintaining a sunny disposition. It’s not a profession for the feint of heart! It’s takes strength of character and clear, focused purpose. But talk about a sense of overwhelm!
It’s so easy for teachers to feel like they’re being pulled in a hundred and one directions. The tendency then is to focus our attention outwards on everyone and everything else…putting others’ needs before our own. We can easily get lost in these outside demands and lose ourselves…lose our inner calm, our clear thinking, our patience and our mental health. Compulsive thinking can become our worst enemy. We then tend to derive our sense of worth or identity through our perceived ability to cope, or not cope with the multitude of demands, responsibilities and expectations.
One useful strategy that may help us to draw some needed attention back to ourselves is a meditation that is described by Eckhart Tolle in his book, “The Power of Now". It can help us to practise some self-compassion and give both our minds and bodies the reprieve they so dearly deserve by focusing inwards. Rather than trying to empty the mind (which for a teacher performing several juggling acts, seems next to impossible), the key to reclaiming a few moments of inner peace is to focus all your attention into the body.
I think many of us walk around feeling like we are a brain with a body attached to it. But with this meditation, the idea is to “be in” the body. Close your eyes and feel the inner body. Don’t think about it, just feel it. You may feel a slight tingling sensation, or a sense of warmth. Whatever it is, don’t think about it, just feel it. Start with your feet and work your way up to your head. The more attention you give it, the stronger the sensation will be. It might even feel as if every cell is coming alive. If you are good at visualizing, you can imagine that the whole body is glowing with light as a single field of energy.
Eckhart claims that by practising this meditation and then hopefully maintaining this connection at all times, no matter what you are doing, you won’t lose yourself in the external world. By staying rooted in the inner body, the feelings of fear and anxiety are less likely to take over you. Give it a try next time you feel pulled in a hundred and one directions, bringing on those overwhelming sensations.