Being a teacher and going into a classroom is probably one of the most stressful things you can do. And you’re dealing with secondary trauma, you’re dealing with burnout, you’re dealing with stress, you’re dealing with all these things. So you’ve got to take care of yourself first. Take some time to do the things you love. Whether it’s getting outside, whether it’s running, whether it’s painting, whether it’s cooking. Just something that fills you up, but also have time for your own personal practice.
If you really want to bring these practices to other people take the time. Like Linda Lantieri always says, “You’ve got to do the work before you do the work.” You’ve got to work on yourself before you start working on other people. So take the time, develop your own personal practice and slowly start sharing it with others and it’ll spread. It’ll spread like wildfire. People are going to want to learn more, they’re going to know more. You’re going to go deeper inside yourself and connect deeper with yourself then you can connect that with deeper, authentic communication with the other people around you.
You can walk around and talk and talk about love all you want, but if people aren’t feeling it from you and they’re not seeing it in your actions and your words they’ll know it. It’s not going to be authentic love, it’s just going to be theoretical. You know what I mean? So I think people see how we treat each other, how we treat ourselves, how we treat the people around us. And I think they feel it without us even having to say it. So, when we do say it, it’s not surprising or shocking or seen as soft and mushy.
Modelling Empathy for Others
That’s one of the byproducts that comes with a personal practice. If you have a personal practice you’re going to roll with empathy. You’re going to roll with love in the forefront of everything that you do. And that’s also a thing that we’ve seen develop in our kids, also. It’s not really us having to say, “We love you.” all the time. Which we do, but it’s more of them developing that sense of self-love within themselves. And once they fill up that foundation of self-love up they’re able to love other people and be more empathetic. And break up fights.
And I think we just model that as well. We always said to the youth we’re working with, to the adults we’re working with, to the staff that we have that you have to have your own practice. And we always say to people, especially our staff when they come and they say, “This is going on.” This is tough, because some of the scenarios or classes they’re going into kids may not be engaged. People may not want to buy into the practice immediately. Whenever they’re going through some tough times we say, “Well, when was the last time you practiced?” And sometimes we get, “Well, I taught three meditation classes yesterday.” But it’s great that you’re leading them, but when did you actually sit and get your time in? Sometimes I think that can kind of fall by the wayside being that they’re so busy.
But I think that we just model that all of us have our own personal practice. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t meditate in a day. I’m sure the two of them can’t remember either when we didn’t do it. And I think that they see that sense of calm in our presence that we carry amongst ourselves all the time. And I think it trickles down to them and it trickles down to the students. And we just remind individuals that that’s how it works. You can’t go into a school and get kids to be more mindful if the staff is screaming and yelling at the kids. It’s impossible. And I think, ultimately, that’s our goal. Is we always said, “We’re not saving anyone. What we’re doing is we’re providing people with tools and techniques for them to save themselves. For them to be able to manage their lives themselves.” And I think that is where that sense of calm is coming from, just from practice. And just being. And then it all connects because it’s about loving each other too. Because when you love everybody it’s pretty easy to be calm all the time.
Model the behavior that you want to see from your students. If you don’t want to see your students yelling or being disrespectful to each other model that same behavior. You know, The teachers have to deal with so much stuff with these kids dealing with a lot of undiagnosed trauma that’s being acted upon. But really, just be mindful and that will come having your own personal practice. But honestly model the behavior that you want to see in your classroom. Because if you’re asking kids to do something that you’re not doing it’s not going to happen. That’s about it.