I take time out for myself twice a day for twenty minutes each to practice Transcendental Meditation. My husband and I did TM training in March as a birthday treat for me, and the impact on my life has been nothing short of revolutionary. I try not to preach about it too much for fear of sounding like a new-agey whack job, but I think everyone would be happier, more productive, and more in touch with their creativity if they had a regular meditation practice. It's a miracle, and if drug companies could bottle and sell it, it would be prescribed as a cure for most anything.
My morning meditation happens before I do anything else. It centers me and sets my energy for the day. Part of the reason I wake up at 4:30 every day (aside from being a bonafide, proud Morning Person) is to get this meditation in before I workout, read, eat breakfast or do anything else. I think a common misconception about meditation is that you have to keep your mind blank, but really it's the opposite. My mind is never blank during meditation; a million thoughts flow through my head the entire time, and they wander in strange places. Meditation isn't about making your mind blank, it's about acknowledging those thoughts, and letting them go rather than obsessing. As person prone to anxiety and obsession, this has been a life-saver for my mental health. It's easier to let go of anger and insecurities in your day to day life when you practice doing it all the time.
My evening meditation happens once I get home from school and change out of Mrs. Hauptsteen and into my natural state (no makeup, hair up, sweats). This is the meditation that I miss when things get crazy or my schedule is too packed, which is unfortunate because it allows me to let go of stress from the day and reset for the rest of the evening. It melts the tension away and reminds me that a life of worry is not what I want.
Meditation reminds me that happiness is my genuine, number one goal for life. It reminds me that my actions either fulfill that goal or detract from it, and it's one of the best ways I've found to maintain personal responsibility. We have control over our own thoughts and reactions, and so many of us (me included) waste our time making ourselves miserable based on other people. Why? We can't change them, but we don't have to react in a way that makes us miserable.
I don't have life completely figured out because of meditation, but I do think it's the tool that has brought me closest to reaching self-actualization. It helps me to prioritize, and it's made me a genuinely better and happier human being. That makes me a better teacher. There's a reason you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can save anyone else, and TM allows me to help myself so I can better help others.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.