Relax…and breath easy

As an educator, I never thought I would be so invested in relaxation techniques. Early on in my career, I began to see how paralyzed students became when stressed over their academic performance. The fear of getting a bad grade caused such a mental block, that the student generally got a bad grade as a result. I introduced tai-chi into the classroom. I always gave students the option to participate or not, however; if they did not participate, they had to sit and meditate or visualize themselves performing well. Interesting enough, most students participated. To set the atmosphere, I generally play a zen spa/meditation video that creates a beautiful scene. As it plays, the calmness begins to set in. I begin with slow and calculated movements as students mimic my every move. As I model what they should do, I’m speaking to them in a very calm voice. I tell them how wonderful and smart they are. I explain that they are stronger than their fears. We also do a series of movements that require them to balance. I tell them the focus it takes to balance is the same focus it takes to answer questions on their assignments/tests. I let them know that a low grade is nothing more than an opportunity to learn from. We all make mistakes. As long as they gave their best efforts, I am proud of them. I’ve introduced them to cleansing breaths. We inhale slowly while moving our hands up. As we inhale, I tell them to breathe in, positive words like, “I can, I’m strong, fearless and loved regardless of the results.” As we exhale, our hands are slowly coming down. I tell them to breathe out their fears, anxieties and negative thoughts that make them feel inadequate.

I’m sure tai-chi and meditation in the classroom seemed more like a novelty to some of my students…at first. Then, slowly but surely, they began to “buy-in.” It became an expectation. The students, rightfully so, held me to a higher level. They looked to me to bring the best out of them. My hope is always to empower them to tap into the greatness within. I nor anyone else can bestow greatness upon them. My intent is to show them they are great, faults and all…they just have to receive it. Namaste.