The kids are all napping, so I have a quick minute to devote some time to my very first blog post! Yesterday the hubs and I took the kiddos to the pumpkin patch. It was crisp and sunny and beautiful. This morning we woke up to a sheen of white, wet snow.
For me, the first big chill of the season is always welcomed. It's a signal that the hustle of the summer is slowing, and that we all get to physically and mentally start going inward again. As stir crazy as it can get here at preschool during inhospitable weather, I do try my best as a teacher to promote mindfulness techniques especially hard during these times. I try to use seasonal ques to introduce the basic practice of mindfulness (observation) to get the kids to tell me about what they see and feel outside and how it is different than the season we were experiencing prior to this one. This becomes a springboard for them to start observing their mental states as well. Something as simple as this type of instruction seems imperative to me at a time when the world seems to be going mad.
Just over a week ago, the mass shooting in Las Vegas happened. It really shook me and evoked a sadness and helplessness that's hard to process. My rational mind wants answers and a way to fix the problem---is it a mental health issue? A gun control issue? A systemic political issue? I don't know. All i know is that when I tune in and listen, my heart urges me to be present with the rawness of the suffering; to look into it instead of turn away.
It's a hard thing to practice and an even harder thing to teach---especially to the littles. My approach in the classroom setting, is to name feelings for kids and validate those feelings, no matter how ridiculous they can sometimes be (thrown to the floor in tears because a child wants the purple dinosaur not the red one for example). In this small way, I am hoping to empower the kids in my care to be attentive, aware, and rational human beings that can process and override behavior that would otherwise be harmful to the people and planet around us.
The older I get, the more I realize that the world has always been this way and will probably always be. My practice has shifted from trying to "save" the world to trying to be a positive influence in it. This sentiment has been eloquently captured by the great F. Scott Fitzgerald:
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."
So, we forge onward. We let the snow fall. We let ourselves feel the multitudinous expressions of the human incarnation. We teach the children to do the same. And we hope that in our big and small ways, we somehow make it a little bit better.