Place your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes or focus on a spot in the room. Inhale and exhale, lengthening your breath as you exhale.
This is known as a “mindful minute.” It’s how English teacher Meghan McGinty begins many of her classes. Mindfulness is something that Ms. McGinty holds very close to her heart; her passion for the practice influenced her so much that she teaches both students and other teachers methods to ground themselves in such a hectic world. “Teaching students and teachers mindful strategies encourage a slower, more qualitative way of living and a positive approach to managing stress,” McGinty said. “Instead of walking around like disembodied heads, mindfulness helps us learn how to re-inhabit our bodies and connect with our inner selves.”
However, mindfulness was not something that McGinty had always incorporated into her life. “Mindfulness flowed into my life when I needed to figure out how to be able to walk upstairs without feeling like I was dying,” McGinty said. She found herself consistently over-thinking, over-working, and trying to please everybody. “I knew I needed to change,” McGinty said. This realization is how McGinty arrived at the practice of mindfulness: “Mindfulness offered a scientific method of relating to stress in a new, healthy way,” she said.
By bringing this practice into the classroom, McGinty exposes her students to the awareness and balance she now experiences. “Practicing mindfulness has made me more aware of my own patterns and tendencies. It has opened up space around my anxiety to be able to operate from more of a ‘whole-brain’ place,” McGinty said. There are all things that she hopes to pass on to her students and fellow teachers. “I am more centered, rooted, and balanced, no matter what is happening circumstantially. I believe it also helps me be a better friend, student, teacher, partner, daughter, and mother,” McGinty said.
Many of McGinty’s students are seniors submerged in college applications and very overwhelmed. “The ‘mindful minute’ clears my mind and allows me to focus on the tasks at hand,” Zack Sherman, a senior in College Writing, said. This is exactly what McGinty hopes this practice will do for her students.
Ms. McGinty’s emphasis on mindfulness allows for her students and fellow teachers to slow down, be more present, and focus on themselves. McGinty stressed the importance of mindfulness, saying, “We live in a noisy, hectic, hyper-competitive culture that is obsessed with ‘doing.’ We desperately need these skills!”