Looking ahead…

women s white top and orange floral skirt
Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com


Ten days to Christmas. Five days to the end of the semester. The last lap before retiring from full-time secondary school teaching.

What will the next chapter–Chapter Five–look like? What do I want it to look like? Allowing Source to guide me, here’s an affirming story to manifest the next chapter.

I am teaching mindfulness and meditation in a variety of ways. I have a weekly family meditation group. The “students” donate (dana) in a abasket and I earn a comfortable return for my service. By teaching mindful meditation to families I am sharing the importance of present-moment awareness and  self-compassion to youth and their parents. Through this weekly practice, I am helping to create mindful youth, mindful future. 

With a mindfulness-based grant for early childhood community school initiatives, I share mindful meditation with many youth in kindergarten through second grade at local elementary schools. I teach mindful meditation in five classrooms weekly. The teachers come to my family-based weekly mindful meditation group for support with their own formal meditation practice. 

Other than mindfulness practice instruction, I teach a couple university classes at our local community college in French and English or Computer Applications. Mindfulness is incorporated in those classrooms as well because it belongs everywhere and for all ages.

My post-retirement schedule also includes coordinating DTC functions for a couple local schools during Spring semester. It’s a way to bring balance to my professional endeavors by using both brain hemispheres (mindfulness meditation teaching for the right hemisphere and testing coordinator consultation for the left). It is something I started my last semester of teaching and it ended up being a contract that I was able to continue after retiring. 

Each year, through challenges and successes, through sadness and joy, I have grown into the teacher, woman and person I am now on the precipice of retirement and new frontiers. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

May This Be So (Ainsi Soit-il). Gratitude is powerful. 


Staff mindfulness workshop


At the end of Spring 2019 semester, we had a day-long staff mindfulness training with Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute. Three teachers led our staff of about 20 in a variety of practices: sitting, walking, eating, visualisation. We started the day with yoga stretches and chi gong style movement to get us warmed up and awake. Then, after some guidance from Kara, a meditation teacher from Durango, we sat for about 20 minutes. Throughout the day, we alternated between guided sitting, silent walking, guided movement and a noble silent lunch buffet. I was grateful and pleased with how our staff responded to the training. Everyone participated, shared and was able to sit for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The walking meditation went well, too, with some people walking back and forth inside while others went outside. It was a cold May day outside and the chilly temperature was envigorating. The sun came out in the afternoon while I was doing a walking practice around the swimming pool. I tried backwards walking, too.

It is possible that next year, using the Healthy Schools grant, that staff will have the encouragement and funding to attend further mindfulness workshops with RGMI at Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe.

Mindful Communications


Notes from the online course through MindfulSchools.org in Aug-Sept 2018.

The process takes its inspiration from Non Violent Communication techniques introduced by Marshall Rosenberg. The teacher of this course, Oren Jay Sofer, has written the book “Say What You Mean” which goes into more details with the precepts of mindful communication.

First step: lead with presence. Observe self, others, situation.

Second step: come from curiosity and care. Share feelings.

Third step: focus on what matters. What are the needs.

First Foundation: Presence: Effective communication requires presence. Stay aware of your presence in the conversation; maintain focus; honesty with self about what’s happening. The more aware we are, the more choice we have. Accept the unknown of what is going to happen and new possibilities of the dialogue.

Second Foundation: Intention: Intention determines direction. Intentions shape experience; Be aware of habitual conflict styles in order to transform underlying beliefs. Avoid thoughts of blame and criticism. Everything we do, we do to meet a need. People are more likely to listen when they feel heard. Reflect before responding.

Third Foundation: Attention: Attention shapes experience. Differentiate between “strategies” and “needs” to have more choice and clarity. The more we understand one another, the easier it is to find mutually beneficial solutions. Establish mutual understanding before problem-solving. Awareness of emotions supports ability to choose how we participate in conversation. Take responsibility of our feelings, connecting them to our needs makes it easier to be heard. Hear others’ feelings as a reflection of their needs which helps us understand the other person without blame, the need to agree or feeling responsible for their emotions. Having empathy for ourselves makes it easier to listen to others. Stating clearly what happened without judgment or evaluation aids in being heard. Observations rather than judgement or evaluation. Check in with other for understanding; use fewer words and more sincerity; speak in short chunks makes understanding easier. Be clear about what is wanted and why to get more creative about solution. Awareness of our reactivity to help make wiser choices of what to say. When in conflict, listen more closely to the other person first; increases chance of their willingness to listen to us.


Mindful Communications


I completed this course in September which was taught by Oren Jay Sofer. I really enjoyed following this course which combined tools from Non-Violent Communication and Mindfulness. I had previously read Marshall Rosenberg’s classic book on Non-Violent Communication before knowing that this communication course would be incorporating ideas and skills from NVC.


The foundations of Mindful Communications are:

  • Presence: ground awareness in the body
  • Intention: cultivate an orientation in heart
  • Attention: train to focus on specific areas

After the course, I was offered a copy of Oren’s first book entitled “Say What You Want” – a mindful approach to nonviolent communication. In this book, the author digs deeper into the concepts and skills introduced in the MC course. It’s a very good supplemental resource to the course and I’m glad to have acquired a copy.

Feel/See Mindful Activity


This week’s classroom (and staff) mindfulness activity entailed the senses of feeling and seeing. I asked students to close their eyes, focus on their breath, put their hands out and ground themselves. Then, I placed a shell fragment in their hands. I had collected these shell pieces on a trip to Northern California & Southern Oregon. There were a large variety of shapes and kinds of shells. Some were larger than others. After passing them out, I led the students (and staff later in the week) in a practice of first feeling the object in their hands. I asked them to keep their eyes closed and just really feel the object as if they were blind. I also shared an anecdote of my godmother’s husband, Jimmy Woodlee, who was a blind chiropractor who used only the sense of feel to heal his patients. I explained that our fingers are very sensitive and observant. After a minute or so of feeling the objects, I asked them to open their eyes, and still without speaking, to see the object in detail. The directions included observing the object completely and intimately.

Using a three-tone chime, I used a different tone for each part of the activity. One tone was to indicate closed eyed observation with just the fingers, whereas another tone corresponded to opening the eyes and looking mindfully at the object. I alternated back and forth with these tones (activities) and before finishing up with a breath awareness practice I asked students while their eyes were closed to visualize a scene where this shell could be: a beach, in the ocean, floating on a wave. Finally, the practice ended with the third tone of the chime, which indicates the end of our mindfulness activity.

I found that this activity really caught the attention of all groups (middle school, high school, and teachers). I plan to repeat the activity and adding more to it. For example, after the mindfulness feeling/seeing practice, I would ask students to draw the scene they envisioned for the shell. Then, taking the visual scene, they would write either a story or a few paragraphs describing the scene.

After speaking with Erin Woo today (mindfulness teacher at Brown University and contributing teacher in the year-long Mindfulness School teacher training course), I could add on to this activity by alternating between writing and then sitting quietly, observing the shell more each time. She said that this leads to even more awareness and descriptive writing.

The staff activity took place before a PD meeting. Instead of an EQ check-in, I led the staff in this feel/see mindful activity using the shell. It was short and abbreviated, and I explained to them after we’d spent a minute or two feeling and seeing the shell pieces how I had used the activity in class.

Difficult Emotions

abstract art awareness branches
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During the 2017-18 school year, I encountered my first student who experienced difficult emotions during mindfulness practice. This was in the 9th grade ELA Enrichment class. The student had lost his/her dad the past school year and it is my gut feeling that he/she had not done any grief therapy.

This student was in class with a good friend who also experienced difficult emotions during our mindfulness “check-in” practice. This student’s life is/was challenging because of family alcoholism. The student lives with a grandmother. This student is often angry and projects anger towards adults (teacher in this case).

During our group sharing, these two students would either not share out or would say that mindfulness practice “did nothing” for them. At the same time, they would say that it brought up “negative” emotions or thoughts that were negative. One of the students was so uncomfortable that he/she asked to be removed from my ELA class with about 3 weeks left of the semester. The student said I reminded him/her of the deceased dad’s family with whom he/she did not get along. Wow! Talk about projection!

At first, I took this personally. Why would a student “take it out on me?” Mindfulness is a positive activity. It isn’t supposed to make a person uncomfortable. Little did I know at the time that people who have experienced trauma or grief AND have not done any personal work to get through the emotions can be triggered by mindfulness or any quiet personal time.

This experience has turned into a learning opportunity. I am taking an online course this summer through MindfulSchools entitled “Difficult Emotions”. How opportune!