Find your mindful breath this summer
How do you teach a two year old to practice mindfulness and focus on his breathing for a few deep breaths?
Show him how to smell a flower of course!
This same technique can be used to develop our own teacher mindfulness practice which will benefit health and wellbeing this summer.
It’s no surprise that people tell us to “stop and smell the roses”. This adage is something that is how we encourage others to slow down. To notice what is happening. To enjoy the moment as it’s happening.
So, what I would offer is to stop and smell the flowers this summer, to practice the very act of a generous inhale and exhale.
Some of the flowers will have scent, some of them won’t be anything you can actually detect. But by practicing this very act of deep breathing, you will get your body primed and ready for how to pause and breathe in the heat of the moment.
And you don’t have to just smell flowers. One thing I do is to hold different herbs in my hands and smell my hands. This is good for lavender, mint, oregano, and rosemary.
All of these herbs have healing properties. Some will energize you and some will calm you.
All of them will benefit your nervous system when you just slow down to breathe.
Here are some of the benefits of a mindfulness breathing practice:
- Reduce stress levels in your body
- Lower your heart rate
- Lower your blood pressure
- Improve diabetic symptoms
- Reduce depression
- Better manage chronic pain
- Better regulate your body’s reaction to stress and fatigue
- Reduce the possibility of burnout for caregivers (Source)
Using flowers, herbs or any plant as a way to pause, observe, and slow down to breathe is an incredibly effective way to appreciate the natural world around you, get some nice deep breaths in and spend time noticing. Again, you don’t need to visit an arboretum, have an English Cottage style garden or even have potted plants.
You know those things we call weeds like clover or dandelions sprouting up all over, take a few moments and just see if you can even detect a scent. Perhaps you see other things flowering and you can’t identify them. Take a few moments to just smell them, snap a picture and perhaps figure out what’s growing around your home. In the sidewalk cracks or on the median strips or on the side of a hill on the road.
We don’t have to grow our own flowers to stop and smell the roses. Nature really does prevail and is resilient. If you open your eyes to see the nature that is around us, sprouting from spaces that we may never have ever noticed before. It is there to remind us of our own ability to be resilient. But we need to notice it. We need to pause.
We need to give ourselves a moment to breathe. We need to give ourselves a moment to just hold on to this moment. So we can recreate it again when we need to even if we don’t have the beauty or scent of the flower right in front of us. That is the practice of teacher mindfulness.
This is the teacher mindfulness practice for the summer. This is the training that nature can provide for us this summer so that we are ready to go when the school year begins.