In recognition of World Mental Health Day on October 10, Karen Ragoonaden, Professor of Teaching & Director of the Centre for Mindful Engagement at the Okanagan School of Education has a reminder for educators, candidates, interns and students.
“Take a pause,” says Ragoonaden. “It’s easy to overlook taking care, and thinking, of yourself; but self-care is very important – and that includes checking in with yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Professor Ragoonaden has been researching mindfulness and specifically its impact on educators for more than five years.
“I became interested in teaching and in researching mindfulness when the Okanagan School of Education was gifted with the smartEducation (stress management and resiliency techniques in Education) curriculum in 2012,” says Professor Ragoonaden. “We re-conceptualized and operationalized the curriculum so that the teachings would be accessible to post-secondary and Kindergarten to grade 12 contexts. The smartEducation has found its home in Teacher Education, Nursing (smartNursing) and within the school system.”
In one of her more recent studies, Professor Ragoonaden conducted a pilot study with teacher education students who voluntarily attended eight mindfulness focused sessions on campus and also followed guided practices at home over nine weeks. At the end of the pilot, the students reported improvement in being less judgmental and less reactive towards thoughts, feelings and emotions of others, and in particularly of oneself.
“We’ve found that when individuals are practicing mindfulness consistently it positively influences their mindset,” says Professor Ragoonaden. “It really demonstrates to people that you are more than your thoughts, and you have the ability to make changes.”
To help you “take a pause” on October 10, OSE has three guided practices used during the study available on education.ok.ubc.ca under smartEducation: Pause Practice, Body Scan and Sitting Practice.
“In addition to smartEducation practices, there is an easy to remember acronym developed by Tara Brach to help you practice mindfulness and compassion: RAIN,” says Professor Ragoonaden.
“‘R – Recognize what is happening
A – Allow the experience to be there
I – Investigate with gentle attention
N – Nurture’.”
You can learn more about Tara Brach and view her resources for meditation at tarabrach.com.
Stress Management and Resiliency Techniques (SMART) was developed in the United States, and is now managed by smartUBC, a not-for-profit group at the University of British Columbia coordinated by the Okanagan School of Education.
Learn more by visiting smartubc.ca.