We often say our children are our future. How they think, act, and grow up to be often is influenced by the many adults that they interact with, especially their school teachers, the people they spend most of their childhood with. I still remember back in elementary school and high school, how I would love a certain teacher and hated some so much. I couldn’t understand why some teachers had no compassion. It seems like they hated their job and yet were still allowed to teach us. As I became an adult myself with friends that are teachers, I gain a better understanding for teachers. Though I respect all those that decide to pursue a career in education, however, I often hear of horrible stories relating to teachers and hence, I totally understand Thầy’s passion to focus on teaching mindfulness to this special group – because they influence the lives of our children, in one way or another.
THAT IS MINDFULNESS AND HOW DOES IT HELP?
Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing.
In recent years, mindfulness has been increasingly recognized internationally as a powerful tool to address the everyday challenges at school for both teachers and students. Research by the medical and scientific communities has provided evidence of the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, and in increasing emotional resilience, happiness, positive social behavior, and cognitive skills. These skill sets promote a cooperative classroom environment, reducing bullying and other behavioral issues.
From the very first day of the retreat, I also learned another important message: That while we often refer to school teachers as “teachers”, but in fact we are all in our own way a teacher, especially those of us who have children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. So in Thầy’s eyes, we all become teachers at some point in our lives, and if we are not aware of our thoughts, actions, words, and way of life, we might influence our children in ways that we may not want to. How often do we find ourselves acting and carry out certain habits that we often complain about in our parents? If we are not aware of what we are doing and thinking, we simply will pass on the very negative seeds that we dislike so much. Hence being aware with what’s happening with our mind and body is the first step to being mindful.
So imagine a community of teachers that are more at ease, more relaxed, more aware of their actions, words and thoughts, then what we have is a community in which our children has a higher chance of growing up to be more compassionate, more understanding, more loving, and cherish all aspects of life, be it big or small. Perhaps we might have a lower teens suicidal rate, less drugs and other abuse issues. I really love the idea of having such a community. As I recently got married, I also know that one day I would love to have my own family of beautiful children, and if I can be that better individual for my own children at home, and trust that at school, their teachers are like the ones I meet at the retreat, who are passionate about creating a mindful and peaceful environment in their classrooms, then I can smile and trust that my children are also in good hands there.
Individually, we may not be able to change the world, but together, as happy teachers we will change the world. And that’s the motto of this wonderful retreat.