Place, workplace, and mindful movement
Keywords:mindfulness, embodiment, well-being, teaching, intrapersonal, Feldenkrais, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
This paper explores how mindfulness exercises and body awareness can support teacher well-being. Combining narrative inquiry and participatory action research this paper documents perspectives of participants and researchers involved in trialling mindfulness in movement practices for teachers in the Northern Territory in Australia. These practices were introduced as part of a pilot study focused on teacher well-being and in response to what we perceived to be the lack of attention given to intrapersonal development in well-being matrices. Through these cycles of workshops and inquiries, we came to learn embodied awareness practice that is situated within a sense of place became an important support for teacher resilience. Although nearly one hundred teachers have participated in these programs, we draw upon the narratives told by one early career teacher as an exemplar of how these practices might play out in the workplace. The auto-ethnographic accounts that intersperse this paper offer insight into the visceral tensions embodied in re-location, location, and the complex (and at times) alarming challenges faced by a beginning teacher in a middle school. Here knowledge, skills and embodied learning must be marshalled and enacted amid the dynamics of what is self-described here as the contact zone of the classroom. These personal narratives of lived experience provide insights into how this form of intrapersonal learning can have benefit for teacher well-being. The paper concludes by raising questions that might direct the profession to formally pursue applications of mindfulness in school well-being agendas.
This article is also available in Spanish.