True refuge is that which allows us to be at home, at peace, to discover true happiness.
The only thing that can give us true refuge is the awareness and love that is intrinsic to who we are. Ultimately, it’s our own true nature.
I’m sitting at my desk at school. This is the second full day back with half the kids still working from home.
We’re near the end of the semester.
Grades are due.
Kids are struggling.
I am struggling.
Oh yes, and just this week the Capitol building got ransacked by insurrectionists.
Oh and that global pandemic.
I am acutely aware. Aware of all the things.
The “ill” of awareness is something that every teacher is keenly familiar with: busyness.
Being busy keeps us from making acquaintance with how things are at any given, fleeting moment. When we’re busy we miss things. We act on autopilot and often in survival mode.
But Tara Brach provides us with the idea of bringing awareness to who I fully am instead of all the things that are happening around me.
Instead of being bogged down by the stuff, how can I bring the awareness back to my own intrinsic nature?
What am I feeling when I see the calendar, miss my students, recognize the pile of grades that need entered, watch the news, put on my mask?
Can I bring awareness to myself and allow that to help guide me when I am walking among the world and all that it is.
Can I turn toward, instead of away?
Can I validate, instead of disregard?
Can I take a few moments, put my hand on my heart, and provide myself with that “true refuge” that is what is going to fill me with equanimity
Look around you. Where are you sitting. Take it in. Wherever you are, pause. Breathe and look. Touch. Taste. Smell.
What are your observations? What are you becoming aware of? What are you seeing for the first time, even if you’re sitting at your desk in your classroom or at home?
This is the practice of building awareness.
This is one of the first skills we can dust off when we’re feeling some kind of way.
Just stop. Breathe. Feel. Be with what is.
Savor that blessed moment you just gave yourself.
Awareness doesn’t mean that things are all going to work out or disappear.
But it also doesn’t mean that when we stop we will be swallowed whole by what we find. Instead awareness allows us to reset.
Try to see things for what they really are and then proceed in the direction of doing something to shift us ever so slightly into the direction of our true intention and following our values.
When you pause and practice awareness, you may notice something that could be moved to make your day easier. Something that could be added to bring a smile to your day. Something that is already there that you hadn’t noticed in some time, like a special photo, a memento on your desk or a small token of appreciation.
Here are some ways to build the skill of awareness so that you’re ready to be bogged down by busy and bring more awareness to the classroom.
Go for a walk somewhere familiar and notice what you notice. What can you take in with your five senses. Try this same exercise in a new location.
Instead of multi-tasking, choose ONE task and JUST do that thing for the duration. Wash the dishes, answer the email, eat your meal (or first bite), ONLY focusing on that thing.
When I really want to witness myself monkey mind, I’ll do this exercise. Putting my phone away out of sight for a set amount of time, allows you to see how racing your thoughts can be. How you are often times feeling busy, but really sometimes you’re just being distracted. Practicing a regular digital sabbath can be really beneficial in building your skills of awareness.
As anything with self-care, this isn’t easy and it’s simply a practice. One that will be easier to do each and every day that you just try something. So check in with your level of busy, and try to see if you can just become aware of that which may be missing.
For that is your true nature.
If you want to bring some awareness to your self-care, please schedule a complimentary 30-minute Teacher Coaching Call to see if we’re a good fit to work together and make your personal and/or classroom goals in the a reality.