In celebration of #mindfulmarch, we sat down with teacher and meditation expert from New Age Teacher, Nicole Vetere to discuss the importance of meditation, her love of being a teacher and ways in which you can incorporate some of her techniques for you and your little ones.
1. What made you want to become a teacher?
My soul is what led me into teaching. Teaching has been a part of my imprint from the beginning of my arrival, and is definitely the gift I was given to deliver in the world. I feel grateful for always having a complete knowing that this is what I was meant to do. I can remember as far back as the age of 3 and my desire to become an educator. When my two brothers were unwilling participants, my stuffed animals would become the student body in my bedroom. I would line them up and teach away. In Grade 1, I remember finding class lists that my own teachers had disposed of, and I would scoop them up like it was Christmas! Every part time job from the age of 11 onwards had a connection to children so that I could gain the experience I needed to work with them in my future career. I babysat, coached, camp counselled – you name it. Now as I’m further into my practice, I realize I was meant to bring a whole other layer to education, and to be a lighthouse for mindfulness in the classroom. In essence, I was meant to teach what I wish my teacher had taught me®
2. How do you incorporate mindfulness into your teaching?
Mindfulness is incorporated into my teaching on a daily basis. As I express to the educators I am now sharing my philosophies with, mindfulness is not an add-on in the classroom, it’s simply a way of being, and it becomes second nature as it’s very much what individuals’ true nature desires anyhow. As soon as my students enter the classroom each morning, we begin our morning rituals, starting with our gratitude journals and shares. Our time of gratitude is followed by a morning mantra in unison. The positive affirmations we speak aloud, are written on our own individual mirrors with the intent of developing self-love and an acceptance of our own reflection. Our mornings also consist of learning a new yoga posture or sequence which we often connect to current curriculum or pedagogy. Our breathing ball then follows to help us to relax as we move into our morning meditation. Morning meditation is guided, sometimes thematic, and often with the help of “Meditations For Growing Minds” of course as we conclude our relaxation through meditation, we set an intention for the day, or re-energize our bodies with a bit of energy work. Before heading into our classroom subjects, we engage in a class discussion about our morning image that is projected as inspiration each day – the kids delve deep into thought and bring forth reflections that I could not dream up myself. Throughout the remainder of our day, mindfulness is incorporated into the classroom through books on topic, and conversations that spark from curriculum. My students also have access to a compassion corner in our room that contains a wide variety of mindfulness tools to help attain peace and relaxation. Right next to our mindfulness corner, you would find our yoga center, well equipped with a mat, and prompts for poses and sequences. We always end our day in community, where we share thoughts, insights, challenges, and successes. It’s a magical time of the day and one of pure connection. Mindfulness is truly weaved into every aspect of every school day and both student and teacher transformation is a sight to see.
3. What can people expect from your CD, "'Meditations for Growing Minds"?
From “Meditations For Growing Minds,” people can expect transformation, awakening, and growth. Yes, this is possible for our young minds as I witness it firsthand each day in the classroom. The guided tracks were originally created when I wanted to introduce meditation in the classroom but could not find resources that were child and youth centered. As a result, my tracks were birthed. The 10 individual mindful journeys were created with such intention, while using relatable settings and scenarios, and friendly, positive language; there are also very conscious messages embedded into each track. Growing Minds can expect to “hear” or “notice” something new with each listen, and develop self-love, self-acceptance, and even a new dialogue as they internalize and practise the affirmations that couple with the relaxation. I have observed Growing Minds simulate what they hear and see during a meditation, repeat affirmations aloud, and even incorporate the concepts into day to day experiences. Relaxation and a grounding pause in your day, are sure to accompany a session with “Meditations For Growing Minds” – just close your eyes, and relax your minds ;)
4. What does 'mindfulness' mean to you?
To me, mindfulness is truly about being present, in the moment, and aware of yourself and the world around you. Life can be so fast paced. Our youth are living in a very polarizing time. There is clear evidence of growing consciousness, but also of conflicting disconnect with an increase in technology, social media, and daily stressors. I feel passionate about equipping our Growing Minds with the capacity to truly connect with self and others, and to fully realize their true potential in the world. I wish to see children and youth identify their unique gifts they were born with in order to share them, and to help expand and transform our world. Stillness brings about this opportunity. Mindfulness is about self-love, self-actualization, growth, learning, connectedness, and gaining the tools to navigate through life’s ebbs and flows with ease, grace, and love.
5. How can parents incorporate more mindfulness into the lives of their children?
I think the best way for parents to incorporate mindfulness into the lives of their children is to practise themselves, what they wish to see for their children. Practise presence. Practise awareness. Own one’s mistakes and embrace one’s gifts. Growing Minds watch us, see us, and mimic our behaviours; therefore, making it imperative that we are mindful of what we are modelling. Mindfulness can be a beautiful way for families to connect in the home. Start small and develop your family traditions together. Meditation can be a wonderful tool to participate in together and can set the tone for the day upon waking, or help to decompress after a long day at school and work. A track may even be thrown on just before homework in order to improve clarity and concentration, and relaxing visualizations are a wonderful pairing with bedtime stories to prompt a good night’s sleep. When challenges arise in the home, look to tools such as mandalas, gratitude journals, children’s spirit cards, or affirmation kits, as an alternative to more aggressive solutions. Work together to turn the challenge into an opportunity for growth and learning as we are all on this journey together. Mindfulness can become a natural routine along with the other routines your family shares. Practice as a family and you will see the love and connection that ensues.