"We live in an incredibly busy world.
The pace of life is often frantic, our minds are always busy, and we're always doing something.
So with that in mind, I'd like you just to take a moment to think, when did you last take any time to do nothing?
Just 10 minutes, undisturbed... and when I say nothing, I do mean nothing
So that's no emailing, texting, no Internet, no TV, no chatting, no eating, no reading.
Not even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Huh?
Simply doing nothing."
In this fascinating Ted Talk, Andy Puddicombe poses this question to his audience. His response is not surprising.
"I see a lot of very blank faces.
You probably have to go a long way back.
And this is an extraordinary thing, right?
We're talking about our mind.
The mind, our most valuable and precious resource, through which we experience every single moment of our life.
The mind that we rely upon to be happy, content, emotionally stable as individuals, and at the same time, to be kind and thoughtful and considerate in our relationships with others.
This is the same mind that we depend upon to be focused, creative, spontaneous, and to perform at our very best in everything that we do. And yet, we don't take any time out to look after it."
Watch his incredible speech about how 10 minutes of mindfulness a day can significantly improve our brains function and overall well being.
I can't juggle for shit!
Not the circus balls anyway, but I have gotten pretty good at juggling this thing called life and more importantly, teaching.
It's not always as easy as Andy makes it look, it takes time and patience and most of all the self-awareness to start being mindful in the first place.
My mindfulness journey started in my third year of teaching where I somehow discovered a motivational speaker by the name of Tony Robbins. Have you ever heard of this bellowing brute of a man who travels the world selling out Olympic stadiums full of optimists and believers in his success programs?
I often look at Tony Robbins now with a questionable attitude towards his own motivation to be doing $5000+ tickets to his life-changing shows, but he has changed many lives and he did first point me in the direction of mindfulness.
I was at a really low point in my life and struggling to find the motivation and energy to teach, coach, train, socialise or anything.
A diary entry of mine during this period exclaimed "I am in a rut and I am kind of stuck, I will get out I just don't know how right now". It kind of sounds like an Eminem rap cover but I can assure you I was feeling pretty blue at 24.
One of Tony Robbin's many audio podcasts brought something to life for me "raise your standards", I was encouraged there and then to stop blaming everything around me, my life was fabulous, I had everything I needed and I just needed to change my approach and attitude.
Thankfully, somewhere along the way I found Tony Robbins and his work led me to another motivational speaker who calls himself "The Hip Hop Preacher", now I was really getting deep into the motivation and mindfulness game.
Eric Thomas is his real name, (or ET) and what ET did was he kicked my ass into gear!
ET flicked a switch inside me and made me realise that life was too short to be moping around blaming this person, that person, this thing happened, that didn't happen, what it all came back to was "how bad do you want it?" and that phrase has stuck in my head ever since.
That same very phrase and this video below has been used in many of my lessons for teenagers to acknowledge that success requires hard work, working on yourself really hard, day in and day out if you want achieve anything you need to be prepared to work hard.
I have watched this video countless times when life gets tough or things don't go the way they have planned.
Yes I understand it is very mucho macho for most of you, but you all need to find your own kindling to ignite your fire from time to time. It may not be a video, it may be a quote or a book or a podcast, finding a motivator to manage your mindset is your next step.
The motivator aka Hip Hop preacher sparked a desire inside me to work harder, learn more and strive for success.
But, success in what?
My whole childhood has been based around sport. Summer was cricket and basketball, winter was Aussie rules. Life was all about playing sport and winning sport!
All the training, games, extra running, home gym sessions etc. was because I had it ingrained in my brain that to be a "man" or to mean something in this life meant you had to be playing sport, well!
The best thing that ever happened to me was realising sport wasn't everything. Watching ET talk about working hard to be successful made me understand that it didn't matter whether it was sport, business, school, life or family working hard was the only way to achieve any goals you desired.
Feeling low, lost and left out at 24 made me question myself all the time. I was never comfortable in my own head, I could never sit still, I was always trying to be busy until I developed more mindfulness.
I set the goal of getting better at doing nothing.
Obviously, I am not speaking literally, what I mean is I started to cultivate my mind and develop the ability to control my thoughts.
Owning my circumstances and well being was the catalyst for positive lifestyle change. I started researching and learning more and more about motivation, mindfulness and mental health. I fell in love with psychology, neuroscience and the power of meditation and yoga.
Developing my own personal well being plan was a result of watching a motivational video by "The Hip Hop Preacher", who would have picked that? Certainly, not me!
I then picked up a book, "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari"- by Robin Sharma, this book is still my favourite book of all. It is an inspiring tale that provides a step-by-step approach to living with greater courage, balance, abundance and joy. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari tells the extraordinary story of Julian Mantle, a lawyer forced to confront the spiritual crisis of his out-of-balance life, and the subsequent wisdom that he gains on a life-changing odyssey that enables him to create a life of passion, purpose and peace.
Just like my inspiration, I was determined to work hard, set goals and go after them to achieve my own success. I wanted to use my own journey, skills, knowledge and education to make the world a better place. I was planning to become a master of my own mind so I could better help other manage their mindset and well being.
Listening to speakers, podcasts, audio books and interviews, reading blogs, books, articles and posts, following all kinds of influential people and writing a shed load of content became my mission. It kept me busy, I was learning, I enjoyed and I actually loved it.
Trialling different tools and strategies to be more mindful became a game for me. It was like Trivial Pursuit mixed with Jenga and Snakes and Ladders, I had the answers, the questions, the clues and the pieces, it was just a matter of finding out what went where and to create a solution that worked for me.
There always has been trials and tribulations and never is there a perfect day with perfect conditions to be mindful and practising mindfulness. Sometimes I struggle to find the time, but even 5 minutes can make a huge difference. 5 minutes of doing nothing helps me so much.
When life gets in the way, teaching is overwhelming, students can be difficult, parents even worse and it seems impossible to find any "quiet" time to sit and think about nothing.
I suggest you try this 5 minute outlandish and alternative mindfulness activity. Follow along with this one, it's bound to put a SMILE on your face.
Adult advisory: some course language.
Honesty, is always the best policy. We all know that as teachers and sometimes at the end of a long and arduous day at the coal face of education you need a meditation like that beauty.
From figuring out that my motivation led to mindfulness, I have been on a profound journey where I have discovered many tools and strategies that have helped me to best navigate the hyperactivity of the education world.
Would you agree that as you progress through your career, the email count goes up, the phone call count goes down, more parents want your attention than their children do, the number of extra-curricular activities almost out numbers the number of students and the extra DOTT you have been gaining each year disappears faster than recess.
So how are teachers supposed to cope in a highly dysfunctional system that prioritises NAPLAN over self care plan?
Are we supposed to just figure it all out on our own like I did?
Fall in a big heap of elephant crap, stumble across a "Hip Hop Preacher", spontaneously acquire an interest in mindfulness and well being and then keep teaching while you prop yourself up and hope for better days?
Teacher's are worse off than ever and it shows in the latest research outlining that 1 in 5 graduate teachers are walking away from the career in the first 3-5 years. That is an appalling attrition rate and simple isn't good enough.
Teacher's need better support to develop their own self care plans that are applicable to them. Giving teacher's access to valuable professional development that empowers them to better manage their well being and mindset is what we are striving for.
We are working with our members and affiliates to create a positive shift in the Universal Mindset towards education. Teaching is a rewarding career that needs better resources, funding and research into making it a noble and influential part of the world's success.
If we all work together we can change, save and empower lives to make a positive difference.
I made an incredibly wise decision once I had started to feel the real benefits of mindfulness in my life, I started doing it in my class with my students.
My students are generally, 15-18 year old boys, heavily involved in sports and all aspiring to be the best at what they do. It always starts out as a competition. We started with yoga and they instantly fell in love.
In my first few years teaching, I was very much in the same growth mindset where I was always trying to be the best, trying to do more, be more, see more etc. My students were no different and as I was on my path learning about mindfulness and self-discovery I realised how important it was for these young adults to start developing the same skills that moved them towards the benefit mindset. Find out more about the four mindsets in our Mindset Manoeuvre Workshop.
It became my mission to design and implement engaging and valuable activities, lessons, programs and workshops for my students, based around mindfulness. In the past few years teaching we have done things such as journal-ling, goal setting, reflective questioning, mentor programs, meditation, brain games, but the best of all has undeniably been yoga.
Yoga was the fuel to my burning desire to get better at managing my mindset. I started with Vinyasa and in the past few years have practiced Yin, Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini, Prayanama and Acro yoga... where I have loved aspects of all yoga practices.
Bringing some of these styles back to my classroom has created such a powerful and obvious change in my students behaviour. They are calmer, more collaborative, empathetic, resilient, self-aware and mindful. I regularly welcome them to class on a Monday morning and instantly have a handful of boys requesting that we start the day with a Yoga Flow.
I would love to see more yoga implemented in the curriculum, together with mindfulness and full scale training and delivery of programs for teachers to run with their schools.
Our Mindset Manoeuvre Webinar and E book is very close to completion. In this pocket sized preview of our Mindset Manoeuvre you can start to develop the mindset agility needed to navigate your way through the modern education world.
Join us at our October workshop in Perth and online.
Discover the whole picture while you enjoy sunshine, yoga, cocktails and good times at our Bali Teacher Retreat in January.