In education, we always try to emphasize the positive and encourage best practices; after all, promoting something good is more palatable and typically more effective than discouraging something bad.
It's sort of like what happens when you're driving on a road laced by potholes: It's best to look at the smooth pavement so you automatically steer clear to safety. If you get fixated on the potholes, you're likely to end up in them. Same thing with skiing: Instructors tell students to look at the snowy path between the trees -- not at the them.
But sometimes, well, it's just simpler to draw attention, directly, to what's best avoided. Sometimes there's a pothole you really need to miss, or the tree that, well, you just can't hit. The same applies to identifying -- and avoiding -- some of the common mistakes that well-intentioned people make when teaching mindfulness. In particular, people:
- Teach about mindfulness without mindfulness.
- Suggest that they know more about mindfulness than they really do.
- Promise results inappropriately.
- Privilege their approach to mindfulness over others.
- Believe that mindfulness can be taught and learned conceptually vs. through experiential practice.
- Present the daily practice as magical, exciting and immediately uplifting.
- Assume that practicing mindfulness means you're automatically mindful.
Having named the negatives, I'd like to offer some suggestions.
- Model what you teach: Your presence in the classroom is more important than any specific instructions you can offer. The idea is to demonstrate mindfulness by paying attention to what's happening in -- and around you, in current moment. That's the real process and outcome of the practice; the techniques are simply methods for training.
For more by Deborah Schoeberlein, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.