Sep 26, 2019
Episode 68 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores a reluctant teacher’s experience of meditation.
So, guess what? The “one teacher” named in the title is me and up until about six weeks ago, my general attitude towards meditation was something akin to: it’s a bit “woo-woo” and it’s for “other people”.
I should have called this episode “One Reluctant, Anti-Woo-Woo Teacher’s Experience with Meditation” actually; it would have been more accurate.
Let’s unpick this a little. Based on a gut feeling, I had decided that meditation wasn’t for me. Actually, that’s not strictly true (I am being a little hard on myself). I’d tried meditation a couple of times in various yoga classes. It was really hard. Based on that, and my gut, I decided it wasn’t for me.
Yikes, that’s even worse.
So I decided to try again.
Before we delve into my recent meditation experience, let’s take a step back and clarify what meditation is and isn’t.
I have two definitions for you.
The first is from The Cambridge Dictionary:
“Meditation is the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religions activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed”.
The second is from Headspace (more on Headspace later):
”Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”
Honestly, the first definition is really the sort of thing that put me off the practice initially. However, the second definition is interesting. It sounds do-able and beneficial. If you’re anything like me, I suggest you focus on the second definition.
Bigger picture though; I am learning meditation is different things to different people. And that’s OK.
There are two main reasons why I decided to give meditation another try.
The first was that it’s just not cool to discount something entirely based on a (not even particularly strong) gut feeling and the fact that it is hard. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that meditation helps lots of people.
The second reason is more personal. I’m an anxious person; I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life. This might come as a surprise to you given how I present and what I do for a living.
I have learned strategies for managing my anxiety and for the most part I deal with it well. A recent (positive) medication change, however, disrupted my coping strategies somewhat, so I needed to explore some new ones.
As you know, I’m a tech gal, so of course, I researched apps to help me learn to meditate. I settled on Headspace because the app appeared friendly and accessible. I took one of their introductory courses which require you to meditate for just a few minutes at a time. Yes - just a few minutes per meditation. There’s a meditation myth busted, right there. You don’t need to meditate for hours on end. A few minutes is fine! The idea of doing something positive for my anxiety for just a few minutes a day is… well… do-able!
The course’s meditations are basically just sitting (or my preference: lying down) quietly, breathing, focussing and listening. What’s not to enjoy?
The app encourages you to meditate daily but doesn’t exactly tell you off if you don’t (another ✅ - I needed this to be gentle if I was going to return to it).
I actually rather liked it. And am still liking it. MOST importantly though, I managed to use meditation to bring myself down from an anxiety wobble. Research hat on: this shows me it can work.
Short answer - yes. I am not at the stage where it is a daily habit for me but I can see the benefit in building up a kind of “meditation muscle memory”. Honestly, that is probably my next step.
Tell me what you think. At the very least perhaps consider why meditation could have value for educators. I’d love to hear from you.
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Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll join me for the next episode.