Crunch Time & Mindfulness: Putting the extra M in STEAM(M)
Last Thursday, I went to Sharon High School to give a talk on mindfulness, as part of a STEAM series. When I entered the school in the midst of a flock of students carrying band instruments, I felt as if I should have had my own drumsticks in-hand. There was a concert that night; there were also AP Exams taking place that week. Had I been in high school, I would have been juggling these events, plus managing ten other activities, clubs and roles. Is it a rite of passage, to do so much, trying to fit in the time to reflect and appreciate it?
I felt the buzz in the air; I was reminded by the palpable sense of urgency that right now is what educators and students might call “crunch time” — the busiest time of year — “full STEAM ahead”, right until summer vacation. All times can be mindful ones — and, during the busiest times (when it might seem as if there’s no time to pause!) this is when it can make an even bigger difference.
Part 1: Beyond the Buzzword: Demystifying Mindfulness
I’ve seen mindfulness play a direct role in improving my personal and professional life, and I work to demystify it and make it real for others. When talking with audiences, collaborators, fellow educators — anyone! — about the topic, I want to lift the veil off of mindfulness and its subdued, sometimes staid reputation. “It’s not necessarily sitting on a mountaintop, cross-legged, using finger-cymbals,” I shared with the Sharon group gathered, referencing Dan Harris’ chuckle-worthy Google Talk, in which he spins mindfulness on its seventh chakra and reveals ways to make it personally resonant in simple, approachable methods.
That being said, I walk the line, seeing mindfulness for its modern applications and also its origins… and, I have nothing against sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop, which I did many-a-time while living in Switzerland, surrounded by Alps so majestic that they transported me to another place and time on a regular basis. It’s all about knowing yourself, and developing a personal relationship that fits your needs.
One of my favorite life slogans (could be a bumper sticker) is Form Fits Function… yet, I never thought about this as sacrificing aesthetics — it amplifies the experience, thinking of the connection between a form and its practical use! (It’s sister is…