Observations about Meditation

lilyLilly is a Newly Qualified Teacher, in her first year of teaching English at a state secondary school. As an NQT she has to fill in observations, and report regularly to her mentor. Lilly’s parents introduced her to the School, and to the practice of meditation at the age of 16.

Benefits of Meditation
Lilly Wyatt, London

The secondary school where I teach used to have a bad reputation. It has recently improved but some behaviour is still very difficult. There are students who push desks over, and lots of swearing; it’s a challenging environment. I was worried about not being able to handle this; I hadn’t been exposed to this previously.

At the beginning of term I wasn’t meditating and wasn’t going to group consistently. I would go home from work and think about school – negative thoughts all evening and nightmares at night. Then I’d wake up and live the nightmare. I had no time for friends and family; even when I did, my mind was full of school and all its difficulties.

The term was so challenging, I thought I wouldn’t be able to survive the year in teaching if I didn’t have some philosophical outlet or time to myself. From the start of the year, I got so so tired.

Group and meditation
Through my mother’s intervention, I was invited to join a group again. I started that night. It really made a difference to how I managed teaching. When I started going to group, it was the only night I would keep free. By giving myself time to attend the group, I stopped being so obsessed with school. Even at weekends I’d work so that I could have that time free for the group. It made that time at group really special. This has pushed me into practising during the day as well.

Then the group residential week came up at half term. I looked forward to it. It was just as good as my expectations. And we had discussions about meditation as well as individual tutorials. So I resolved to meditate from then on. At first, although I thought my timetable was inflexible (I could be working all night) still I could make that time for meditation. I found that if I didn’t meditate, I got just too exhausted. It was amazing, very useful – even though I wasn’t meditating very well.

It isn’t always easy: often meditation is a time when thoughts come up, yet there are moments when I just sit still. Afterwards I feel more relaxed. In lessons, I practise coming back to myself. I need to do this. It’s amazing how much the children’s mood reflects my own. If I am out of touch they are too. Just being still for a moment every lesson, I can find that unity in teaching the class; it is a practical method. My mentor also recommended some meditative techniques. So I try some with the class – they mess about – but afterwards, they say it changed the lesson. That makes me think how practical it is.

We’ve got children with ADHD, one whose mother died, one whose uncle comes into see me every two weeks, to see how the boy is doing. He’s on report – gets checked every 10 minutes for paying attention. One boy is always getting into fights, but once you know their home situations, you just love them.

The work itself, not thinking about school, spotting negative thought patterns, saying ‘Not now’ – that’s all become a lot easier. It’s hard to measure the effect of meditation. But people have asked me, how do you look so happy, or do you not look tired? I haven’t been ill all term, and I normally get ill. Must be meditation!