Practical Spirituality

Creating Balance during COVID-19

We’ve been on lockdown due to COVID-19. I wear a mask to food shop. I practice social distancing. I live in NJ and last night they included county parks to the list of things that are now closed. I’ve also been remote teaching for the last ten days. The previous 10 days have been unique, and this is putting it mildly. I’m sure that everyone has their unique story or experience during these times. We have just started our Spring Break from school, which gives me some time to stop. It may sound ridiculous to make the statement that I now have time to stop, during a time where we have all been asked to stop.If however, you are a teacher or a parent home with your kids, if there is now or soon to be a Spring break from the remote learning, the sign in, the emails, the uploads…you can relate to this statement with a head nod.

As I have time to get off of autopilot I have time to reflect. The last conversation I had with a parent before our break was about “getting back to basics” One of the “basics” of working with children with autism is being mindful of praise and positive reinforcement. In our classroom if you say, “No!” then you are basically reinforcing a behavior. The parent nodded in agreement and admitted that they had become frustrated with their child’s behavior and meltdowns, and that they had not been using positive reinforcement. I assured them that this is natural , I get frustrated too….. we both had a laugh.

The basics of a special ed classroom, positive reinforcement is nothing more than saying yes to what you want. It’s refraining from using the word, No. If you want to look at this concept through spiritual eyes, then it’s about positive and negative energy. It’s about being mindful of where your energy is. It’s about being mindful of your words.

What are you saying no to? What are you saying yes to? Where is your energy these days?

Be mindful of where your attention is.

I’m not talking about dealing with every day crisis. These are scary times. People are sick, people are dying. Businesses are closed, people are unemployed. There is real fear.
I am fully aware of this. Despite these circumstances I am also aware of the necessity of being mindful of where my attention is. I’m mindful of where my energy is.

Back to the basics.

It’s not the time to be judgmental. Maybe you’re judgmental of yourself for not doing enough. Maybe you’re judgmental of others for not doing enough.

It’s not the time to be political. ( political and judgmental seem to go hand in hand lately)

Back to basics.

In your quiet moments what are you reinforcing? Is it more fear? Is it frustration over your confinement? Are you in the present moment or thinking about tomorrow? If you are thinking about tomorrow is it a happy thought or a negative one?

I’m finding it increasingly important to create balance. It’s necessary for me to stay practical and grounded. Take care of daily business. At the same time I also need to utilize my spiritual perspective: face and process fears and judgments, invite in more of what I want.

How exactly do I invite in more of what I want?

Back to basics.

Mindfulness. I notice small things to appreciate. In this moment I can see out my window the tree that bloomed pretty flowers. There is hot coffee brewing in the kitchen, and I love that smell. My cat wants me to pet her. I breathe. This practice of mindfulness took less than a minute. It’s minutes like these that helps me create much needed balance.

I do have a choice to gravitate toward the negative. I can shout No! I can tell you from experience in my classroom that this option never gives me a desired outcome. Ever.
So I’m going to try my best outside of the classroom to do the same.

Published by Patty Bartulovich

I am a Special Education teacher who shares a practical yet spiritual approach to teaching, learning, and life in general. I teach children who have autism. To be successful with my students it takes patience, mindfulness, and leaving one's ego behind. It requires a willingness to be self aware. It requires self love. I am both teacher and student. Dealing with everyday life challenges requires the same.

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