By Ken Weinberg, high school teacher
A mindfulness retreat was the last thing on my mind heading into the summer break. I
told myself, just go and try to have an open mind and choke down the vegetarian meals. Yes,
take one for the team, you can do this. I had a lot of self talk and denial as I drove to the retreat.
Walking into the meeting area my conditioned mind was on overload.
But within the first 30 minutes, my authentic self came running and screaming from the
deepest recesses of my brain, a place where I had repressed it away for far too long. From that
moment, I knew that the community I was in was a safe and welcoming space. The trust was
reinforced with every activity that we completed.
For me as a person, the retreat changed my life, my vision, my teaching, my relationship with my family and my students. Instead of reacting to situations, I was listening and understanding the issues. I was able to not personalize or feel I was being attacked, but rather calmly be a part of the solution.
The mindfulness retreat helped me to get past my judgement of ME and allowed me
to practice mindfulness in my teaching. It has helped me to understand and notice when self
talk takes over and how to identify that it’s self talk and how I can move towards being centered.
Regulating stress now involves meditation, counting my breath, visualization, and
journaling. Practicing mindfulness using the tools learned at the retreat has impacted me
personally and professionally. It's impacted how I am at home around my family and how I teach, the calmness and understanding that I am able to access, and my sense of who I am and why I do what I do, as well as the ability to tell myself that “it’s okay." Because of this retreat, I truly enjoy teaching once again.