In the past few years, the results of several studies have shown that while we are seemingly living in a more connected world due to technology, there are more and more people experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, and more...
In the past few years, the results of several studies have shown that while we are seemingly living in a more connected world due to technology, there are more and more people experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, and more.
As a teacher of Spanish, my first responsibility is to teach the language--I love grammar, spelling, all of it! In our classes, Spanish is taught in the context of the students’ reality at school by connecting the Spanish language to their core class units in the primary grades, as well as to the reality of the different cultures in the Spanish-speaking world. One purpose behind exposing the students to these cultures is to help students discover how much we all are alike and how much we, as human beings, have essentially the same hopes and dreams regardless of where we come from, how much money we have, the color of our skin, or our educational level. Every human being hopes for a feeling of belonging and safety for themselves and for their loved ones and, for some, these hopes extend to the wellbeing of the world as a whole. Another purpose is to allow students to see “culture” as a point of view in the way some people live in the world, instead of seeing “culture” as “separate” from them as human beings.
While teaching about the celebration of independence for various Latin American countries this past week, students had the opportunity to think and talk about the meaning and value of freedom. To various degrees, the students were able to recognize and discuss the importance and fortune of being able to make choices and, thus, use their freedom. The students showed compassion and understanding for those who lived in slavery and were unable to make their own choices. A second-grade student whispered, “I am very happy that those people can be free like me.” My heart melted a bit! Other students in close proximity clapped in agreement. There was no separation at that moment. The students felt connected to another group of human beings who they did not even know! These discussions always make me realize that our young people have within them an “inner-knowing” that needs nurturing. Without a conscious effort to foster this inner-knowing, it begins to fade and with it the ability to see another’s point of view and befriend it.
It makes sense to think that participating in as many activities as we can keeps us connected, but, in fact, it may unknowingly be draining young and adults in our fast-paced world. One way to stay connected to that inner-knowing is through meditation. I understand that for some, it is just not their cup of tea. Yet, if you have not tried it with your child, you might be surprised how some children really enjoy it. A meditation session can take a minute or hours--it’s everyone’s personal choice.
There are other ways to foster inner-knowing, that sense of being connected to our core, and many relate this feeling to spending time in silence doing nothing at all. It is possible to sit at home in the living room, or on a park bench, or just in the car while waiting for the green light, when you and your child can do nothing and say nothing. Agree with your child to count in his/her mind in and out breaths to five, to ten, or more depending on where you are. Another option may include spending time in solitude. Your child can be in his or her room without having to engage with others, and this includes the absence of technology, of course.
The world has gotten louder and it’s easy to stop listening within. It is possible to be friends with ourselves. Over time, this kind of self-care will translate into self-compassion, self-love, self-confidence, and much more. The development of that connection with ourselves will likely evolve into a steady sense of connectedness to the outside world and those living in it! It is possible that while students still go through the inescapable life lessons that we all try to shield our loved ones from (at times, unsuccessfully), they will remain feeling connected to themselves experiencing life in joy and contentment for themselves and others.