Guest Author: Andrew Ingall, Superintendent of Grand Haven Area Public Schools

Mindfulness….hopefully this is a term you have seen or heard recently. In our schools, we have been talking about and sampling lessons around mindfulness. It’s good stuff. Some of it seems obvious, but it’s far too easy to take for granted. defines mindfulness as “the basic ability (human) to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

I hear it all the time…”life is racing”…”there’s no time to slow down”…”technology and screentime overwhelm me (or my children)”…”I never have time to think, I only react.” Being more mindful may be a solution and is something we need to reflect on as adults—and share with our children. “But I don’t have time for one more thing,” right?

Yes, you do.

The reality with mindfulness is that it’s a simple exercise. It doesn’t take an hour a day, you don’t have to do yoga, and you need not change your beliefs. All that is needed is a willingness to start with a few deep breaths and pause—yes, pause—just for a moment.

Get back to center, gain some perspective.

Personally, I have often given big issues the “24-hour rule”—when possible, I sleep on it before reacting or responding. Sure, there are crisis situations that require immediate response, but it’s still good to pause, take five deep breaths, and then jump to action.

Coupled with being mindful, we are also promoting the idea of a “growth mindset” with our students. Specifically, we are working to develop and build a mentality of persistence. More simply said, we hope that with mindfulness, when the going gets tough, there is a moment to pause (working against the feeling of being overwhelmed), followed by a sense of “I can do this (persistent), supported by the thought of being present and fully focused on the task at hand.

While this is great for students in their learning and preparation for a life that will continue to change, it is important for us adults. too. The technology and devices that we use every day provide greater access and a better life. But we all know what happens with too much of a good thing.

Try being mindful yourself, and look for ways to engage and simply pause to take a breath and decide how big, or little, the “crisis” of the moment really is. In the end, life is short, and there is far too much to enjoy—including family, friends, and our natural surroundings—to let it rush on by.

I encourage you to be persistent about being mindful.