Using moments of meditation during problem solving can be a powerful tool that empowers #MathTinkering, an approach that includes adopting a growth mindset, putting ourselves into the position of thinking clearly, taking chances, and focusing on the task at hand.
A key tool in #MathTinkering is to learn how to undo a negative moment during problem solving where we feel overwhelmed, anxious, frozen, and filled with self-doubt. Our goal is to create an emotionally safe place for ourselves to have the freedom to try out new ideas without personal judgement or angst.
One such tool that has been successful in my practice is introducing short spurts of meditation in order to help problem solvers unwind during stressful moments as negative thoughts of a fixed mindset seep in. The goal of the instruction is to use meditation as a strategic tool to solve a particular problem at a particular moment.
This is the approach that I use with my learners to introduce meditation.
- The goal of the meditation is to clear out all words and thoughts for a short period of time. I assume that it is impossible to have no thoughts whatsoever, but we can work towards that goal.
- We start by beginning to control our focus by closing our eyes and drawing as much of our attention to our breath and visualizing something very simple.
- As thoughts start to flow around our brains, we remind ourselves to focus back on our breath and not on our thoughts/words.
- Take about 1 minute to clear out as many thoughts as possible to find a much quieter place in your head. It is up to the meditator to determine the moment of clarity to return.
- Open your eyes and acknowledge that we are starting fresh.
I am often amazed at how quickly it takes for someone to bounce back to a clearer state of mind.
Please try out this step as parents in your regular lives. Take a moment to practice for a few minutes until you can create a moment of clarity and then make a point to use it in your life. I would really enjoy hearing about your experiences.
There are two things that I want to be clear about:
- The meditation introduced above is meant as a reusable, momentary tool. As a math educator, it is not my place to offer meditation as a lifestyle.
- This process is a situational intervention which is separate from participating in yoga or meditation at a studio several times per week which are helpful for overall health.