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Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias

An excerpt from Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias by John Davisi

We all have tales. We carry them around with us wherever we go, repeating them to ourselves and others over and over. TALE stands for:

T

Triggers

A

Assumptions

L

Limiting Beliefs

E

Expectations

Triggers are those buttons we all have inside us. For each button, there’s someone in our life who knows how to push it. When we’re triggered, we often have an emotional response that is more heightened than the situation warrants. Think about how you feel when you get cut off in traffic and you get my gist. But the key here is that those buttons have been in us well before the latest person showed up to push them. I know that when I’m triggered, it has very little to do with the other person. It’s an indicator of something I get to look at inside myself as an opportunity for learning, growing, and healing.

We make Assumptions about every person we come into contact with. You’ve been making assumptions about me while reading this article. But the truth is, most of our assumptions are based on past experiences, and have nothing to do with the person you are interacting with in the present moment. Surrendering those assumptions and focusing on the person in the present allow me to be open to understanding who they are and what they need. It invites a new possibility to reveal itself that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

We hold Limiting Beliefs about ourselves and others without ever having experienced them personally. These beliefs are often seeded in the conditioning we’ve received over the course of our lives from family, friends, religion, history, and societal pressures. When I notice a limiting belief inside myself, I ask myself the question, “How true is this for me and why do I believe it’s true?” I can then surrender it and return my attention and intention to the present moment interaction, with an openness and gratitude that the bias filter has been removed.


For every relationship label we assign to someone (romantic or not), we automatically have numerous expectations of that person in order for them to fit that mold and make us happy. We also have a list of Expectations we feel we need to fulfill for them. The minute one of us falls down on the job, we get triggered. When I take the space in the moment to understand what my expectations are, I tend to notice that I expect others to behave the way I would. If I’m judging someone because they aren’t doing something exactly the way I’d do it, I’m denying their skills and talents. I’m not seeing or hearing them. I’m also denying the opportunity for their individual gifts to positively impact me.

We may never be able to eliminate bias, but using mindfulness to take the space in the moment to understand our TALE’s helps us make our unconscious bias, conscious. Then we have the opportunity to make a different choice.

Full Article:


Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias


 BY John Davisi


Davisi, John. "Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias." Mindful Leader. 19 June 2019. 23 Sept. 2019 <https://www.mindfulleader.org/blog/26600-why-mindfulness-is-the-answer-to?utm_source=Mindful%2BLeader%2BNewsletter&utm_campaign=4dbe0d09ff-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_05_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fc20865065-4dbe0d09ff-183757629&mc_cid=4dbe0d09ff&mc_eid=25523fbc8c>.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because I think it is important to understand where our thoughts come from, whether we purposefully think them or not. Recognizing thoughts and feelings that we have and why we have them is the first step to getting them under control. 

Your Body Under Pressure

An excerpt from The Science of Stress by Jon Spayed from Experience Life

Here’s what happens to our organs and biochemistry when we’re stressed out . . .

The Brain


The stress response begins above your shoulders. The amygdala (a cluster of cell nuclei inside the temporal lobe that processes emotional data) sends a threat message to the hypothalamus, which in turn tells the sympathetic nervous system to protect you from attack. The nervous system increases heart rate, constricts some blood vessels and dilates others, slows down the intestines, inhibits digestive secretions, and prompts glands to flood the system with cortisol.


If this alarm is set off too often, it can do serious physical damage. “When too much cortisol is hitting the brain for an elevated amount of time,” Lucille says, “you start to create something called hippocampal brain damage, and the results of this are disturbed circadian rhythms: Your sleep-wake cycle is disturbed. You get moody, and you get memory loss, brain fog.”


The Pituitary Gland

Sometimes called the “master gland,” the pituitary controls most of the other glands in the body, regulating a host of functions including body temperature, thyroid activity and urine production (hence those sweaty palms and frequent bathroom trips when you’re nervous). During the stress response, the pituitary produces adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which prompts the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol increases arterial blood pressure, pulling glucose and fat from body tissues into the bloodstream for energy, one reason appetite diminishes during acute stress.


The pituitary gland also releases thyroid-stimulating hormone, which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine. Thyroxine increases the metabolic rate, raises blood-sugar levels, and increases respiration, heart rate and blood pressure — all essential to a quick burst of activity. But the metabolic boost from thyroxine uses up nutrients too quickly, so the body overuses B vitamins and excretes calming magnesium.


The Heart


Blood vessels constrict during the stress response, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. High blood pressure from constricted vessels and increased cortisol and thyroxine only exacerbates inflammation and arterial plaque buildup.

Additionally, fatty acids released into the bloodstream by cortisol can lead to overproduction of low-density cholesterol (LDL).


High-density cholesterol, or HDL, actually helps keep the circulatory system functioning and has powerful healing value. But, notes Lee, the so-called bad version, LDL, contributes to dangerous plaque buildup on arterial walls that have been inflamed by toxins and high blood sugar — common byproducts of stress eating. And all this sets the stage for cardiac arrest, says Lee.

The Adrenal Glands


Upon detecting a threat, the hypothalamus signals the adrenal medulla (an autonomic-nervous-system node next to the adrenal glands) to secrete two hormones — adrenaline and noradrenaline — into the bloodstream. These increase heart rate and blood pressure. Blood is pumped to extremities and their muscles to help you run or go into battle, while gastrointestinal activity is reduced, producing the feeling of butterflies in the stomach. When this complex process is repeated routinely with no time for recuperation, you start to feel both lethargic and wound up — tired but wired.


Chronic stress also wears out the adrenal glands by overusing their store of energizing adrenaline. According to Lee, this can lead to a condition that integrative and naturopathic doctors identify as “adrenal fatigue,” which can manifest as exhaustion, physical weakness, immune suppression, hormone imbalances, skin problems and depression.

Stomach and Intestines


The slowdown of the digestive process triggered by the sympathetic nervous system and the thyroid can prompt either overproduction or underproduction of digestive acids. Overproduction can lead to painful acid reflux (heartburn), while underproduction means your stomach has limited digestive power. Too little stomach acid can leave food in the system so long that it ferments rather than digests. This can produce bloating, create inflammation of the intestinal tissue and reduce the overall absorption of nutrients.


“If your bowel’s inflamed,” says Emmons, “you’re not getting nutrients out of the food you eat. You can eat really great food but still not benefit from it.”

A Note from M.I.C.

For more information on how stress effects the body or so see full sources, go to the full article down below. To learn more about how we can combat this stress in our day-to-day lives, head over to our Mindful Challenges page.

Full Article:


The Science of Stress


 BY JON SPAYDE AT EXPERIENCE LIFE


Spayde, Jon. "The Science of Stress." Experience Life. 28 May 2019. 16 Sept. 2019 <https://experiencelife.com/article/the-science-of-stress/>.

Account Associate

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

The first step to combating stress is to understand its effects at the most basic level: physical. To understand what is going on inside our body while experience stress, is to help manage and overcome our reactions to what is going on outside of it.

Our Loss was a National Loss

An excerpt from The 9/11 children: What can they teach us?


Sonali Beaven, 20

Her father, Alan Anthony Beaven, 48, was an environmental lawyer. He was killed on board United Flight 93, which crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew struggled with hijackers for control of the plane.

My life’s ambitions are centered on what I witnessed in the aftermath of 9/11. I saw suffering, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a failure of many to cope with these problems. I hope to be an adolescent clinical psychologist and give teenagers and young adults a platform for discussion. I want to be a person they feel safe confiding in. Our loss was a national loss and in that, a lot of individual identity and pain was ignored. I felt that not many therapists I saw could understand that. I commend everyone for the rage and grief that they felt on our behalf. But I now have learned the value in claiming my own loss and I want to help people feel that power and relief.

My loss is central to my identity. I lost my father when I was 5 and have spoken to the media, listened to teachers colloquially discuss 9/11 in class, and heard countless words of hate and fear in response ever since. In a sense each choice I’ve made since that day has been crafted by my experience. But, because of my loss and the nature of my loss, I choose love and life every day. Because of my father and the other passengers, I can’t let fear limit me. I have to take today and every day and try to improve the world we live in and spread the ideology of love. We would not have lost our loved ones if not for commonplace hate and violence, and my life’s commitment, as a result, must be to improve that. I have become a person who values compassion and knowledge and that is a direct result of my loss.

“But, because of my loss and the nature of my loss, I choose love and life every day.”

It is not uncommon among my peers that someone has lost a parent. The causes vary but the pain and magnitude are constant. Loss is so incredibly personal and unique that it isn’t fair to say any two experiences are the same. My loss was public and national, which definitely has its implications. The world grieved for my loss and will not forget. I am fortunate in that way because so many lost are forgotten. But it wasn’t until I was 17 that I realized how personal what I had gone through was, too. I had to grieve my personal loss and remember the individual identity of my father in order to release the national grief I felt. It can be challenging to have such a traumatic experience documented and normalized in conversation. This is how my experience, our experience, is different. At no point was this just about us and what we had lost, and this is profound and yet so crippling.


M.I.C. Note:

Sonali is one of thousands of children with family taken on 9/11 who grew up in an education system forced to adapt to a new nation. Although powerful, her story is one of many. To read more, please see the full article linked below. 

Full Article:


The 9/11 children: What can they teach us?


BY CNN: COMING OF AGE IN THE AGE OF TERROR

Text and video interviews by Moni Basu, Wayne Drash, Claudia Morales and John Blake

Design and development by Sean O’Key and Alberto Mier

Video editing by Madeleine Stix

Photo editing by Bernadette Tuazon, Brett Roegiers and Natalie Yubas


O’Key, Sean, and Alberto Mier. "The 9/11 children: What can they teach us?" CNN. 2019. Cable News Network. 11 Sept. 2019 <https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2016/09/us/911-children-age-of-terror/>.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

Sonali's story is incredibly powerful. Her contrast between the nation's loss and individual loss is one that I've never thought of before. It also reminds us that kids that are too young to remember forge their opinions on what they are taught, so it is important that we keep the memory alive. 

5 Strategies to Relieve Teacher Anxiety

An excerpt from Beyond the Classroom by Jill Eulberg

It's no secret that teaching can be incredibly stressful. A 2017 survey by the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association confirmed teacher anxiety is higher than most other professions. According to the survey, 61 percent of educators reported their work was "always" or "often" stressful—twice the rate of other professions.

If you're struggling with anxiety and stress related to your job, it can be hard to get things under control so you can be the best teacher you can be. Here are some strategies to help you manage teacher anxiety and feel more grounded and relaxed.

1.Practice Mindfulness

Anxiety is often caused by worrying about the future, so staying engaged in the present is a helpful antidote. Using your senses and identifying the sights, smells, and sounds going on around you at any given moment can help pull you from anxious thoughts back to the present moment. Taking deep breaths or focusing your attention on noticing the details of something nearby are also strategies to keep you grounded and present.

2.Seek Companionship and Inspiration

Teacher anxiety is something many of us keep to ourselves, yet the previously mentioned survey shows that the majority of teachers are in the same boat when it comes to stress. Reaching out to coworkers and talking about your feelings can be a great relief.

Also, seek out books, websites, or podcasts for inspiration. Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers podcast has great episodes on topics like beating Sunday night blues and feeling rejuvenated over the summer, which can help when you need support or motivation.

3. Care for Yourself


Taking care of yourself during the school year requires a focused effort. With days that are scheduled down to the minute, and work that often lasts well beyond an eight-hour day, it can be hard to find time to eat healthy, exercise, or even think about yourself. But as the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup, and many of us let ourselves run completely dry during the school year. Finding activities you enjoy and scheduling time for them in your week is key to beating teacher anxiety.

Additionally, you can create rewards for yourself—such as treating yourself to your favorite coffee or scheduling an hour to watch Netflix—to help motivate you through a difficult day or week

4.Prepare and Plan Ahead

Feeling unprepared can trigger anxiety. It's easy to get caught in the vicious cycle of feeling unmotivated to plan on Friday afternoon, putting off planning over the weekend, and ending up feeling extremely anxious and unprepared on Sunday night. Teachers who plan in advance tend to experience less anxiety. Some teachers plan ahead for a unit, quarter, or even the entire school year.

Obviously, plans can change, but having plans definitely helps reduce anxiety. Many teachers commit to staying at school on Friday until their plans for the next week are complete. Others commit to planning on Thursday, so their weekends can start right away on Friday afternoon.

5.Change Your Mind-Set

Many factors that impact a teacher's job are simply out of their control. While this can be frustrating, it doesn't have to cause anxiety.

At my school, we teach our students the "big problem/little problem" strategy. Students identify the magnitude of their problem, then determine the appropriate size of their reaction. For teachers, I think this strategy can also be helpful, but I'd add a third option: "Not my problem." Your energy is too precious to spend on issues that are out of your control. Choosing not to let these issues occupy your mind will help reduce stress and keep anxiety in check.

Full Article:


5 Strategies to Relieve

Teacher Anxiety


By Jill Eulberg, Veteran Educator, M.S. Special Education


Eulberg, Jill. "5 Strategies to Relieve Teacher Anxiety." Hey Teach! 17 Sept. 2018. 28 Aug. 2019 <https://www.wgu.edu/heyteach/article/6-strategies-relieve-teacher-anxiety1809.html>.

Receptionist

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Beth]

Teaching in this day and age has become more stressful than ever before. These 5 strategies are excellent ways to combat the stressors that teachers feel on a daily basis. They are simple, easy to do, effective, and the practices take only minutes out of your day.

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