In this edition of the Langauge of Mindfulness podcast, Meet Megan Sweet, a woman on a mission to help educators be more present in the classroom and resilient in their lives through mindfulness and self-care. Educators are overworked and stressed, especially in these trying times. Megan has stepped up to help deliver tools, training, and advocacy, to support teachers
Megan has a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about equity, mindfulness, and the power of love to heal our world. She has 25 years in education as a teacher, school administrator, and school district leader. She’s the author of Your 3 Eyes (Intellect, Insight, and Intuition) and is on a mission to create a more equitable and inclusive education system by using its greatest assets—the people. You can connect with Megan at Your3eyes.com
If you’d like to learn how to start or deepen a mindfulness practice, see How to Start a Mindfulness Meditation Practice
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<inaudible> hello and vocal to the language of mindfulness podcast. This is a podcast for people who want to have more great conversations in your life.
If you want to connect, you want to speak up identically and you want to listen deeply. This is how to do it, and it’s the real deal.
So why should you listen to the language of mindfulness? Because every episode I’m going to give you tips and guides, I’ve learned in my pretty extensive career of coaching and practice from the best and brightest in the field of interpersonal communications, public speaking, meditation, group leadership and somatic psychology.
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And if you don’t listen, you’re going to miss some great stuff that you just won’t hear anywhere else. I’m your host Brett hill, and welcome to the language of mindfulness.
I’m really excited to welcome to the podcast, Megan, sweet of your three eyes.com. And, um, she’s been doing some amazing work on bringing mindfulness and presence and extending the conversation in the educational environment to, you know, to a much bigger frame than, you know, just kind of, instead of reading, writing, arithmetic, it’s that, Hey, let’s be a person to, so I’d like to introduce you to Megan and have her explain so mega what’s your mission with three?
Yeah, That’s a great question. Hi, thank you for having me. Um, so my mission with your three eyes is to prepare, I’ll actually give permission to educators to take care of themselves.
So educators are tend to give of themselves quite a bit and, uh, burn themselves out and leave the profession. And so, uh, my mission is really to give educators permission and tools to take care of themselves so that they can do the transformation they need in their school communities.
And I provide both, but I think the, the new idea for educators is this idea of actually taking care of themselves and putting themselves first.
So I like to focus on that part and then once they’re a little bit more grounded, we can, we can do all the planning that’s needed around any kind of school change.
Cause that’s my professional expertise. So, So going into the school, so starting at the layer of, Hey, you have to have enough resilience in your life, just personally, in order to show up in a way that’s going to make the changes that need to happen.
Did I summarize that? And then, and then looking at institutionally, like how can we implement this, you know, more broadly than like one on it.
Yeah. So, um, how does that work? Like you get somebody in and they’re, there’s, they’re, they’re, they’re burned out teacher.
They’ve been burning the candle at both ends and they’re and they’re going, oh man, I need help. Like what, where do you start with That?
Well, I start with a mindfulness practice. So I think it really starts with helping folks to connect back in with themselves again, and to truly give themselves permission to stop and take care of themselves.
So I usually start with a very simple, like, let’s just take three breaths together and see how that feels. And I usually ease educators in with like truly very simple on the spot practices that they can do while they’re teaching.
Um, while they’re doing their jobs that they love. Um, educators have a really hard time, uh, for the most part, understanding that their, their, their needs are important.
So in addition to those strategies, I also talk with them a lot about actually why mindfulness and why self care is going to help them be better and do better at their jobs.
And, um, there’s lots of science behind that too. So I love to talk about that with them so they can understand that actually not only is, is taking care of themselves, going to be beneficial to them individually, but it’s going to help their students.
And that usually helps them to relax and be willing to try something new on. Yeah. But are you starting really simply that’s I mean, that’s amazing and you’re starting really simply with like, Hey, let’s just take a break for three minutes, you know, and just, I so resonate with that.
And in the work that I do, it’s sort of like just getting people to turn inward and focus on what’s my experience like right now.
And, and when people are so compressed, there’s just a lot of benefit to just, I mean, not doing anything other than let’s just create a space for some decompression.
Absolutely. And, and what happens then next? So what’s the next phase of that, you know, sort of like, okay, so you create a little space, they sign up to, oh yeah.
I can see how this would be better then. W what, what do you move into a skilled training or deepening process or What, that’s a great question.
Well, I actually support them to do what I call self work and schoolwork and do it at the same time.
So the three I’s, which maybe helps for me to explain that, um, really involves three different lenses through which we can see ourselves in our experiences.
So I trained them in those. Um, the first eye is stands for intellect, and that’s really, um, what we do all the time is the prefrontal cortex.
It’s what we as humans, especially like to spend a lot of time doing, thinking about the past or the present.
Um, so I explained that to them, but then also introduced two other lenses that are really helpful for them to be able to be more grounded in themselves, but also in their schools.
The second lens is, uh, insight, which really means perspective taking. So just as you name stopping and pausing and seeing what’s happening internally.
So it can be taking insight on how you’re feeling at any given moment what’s happening in your body or in your mind at any given moment, but also reflecting over time.
So what are some patterns that you might have? What are some experiences that might be contributing to how you’re feeling right now, help you connect whatever’s happening in your internal immediate moment with what has maybe happened in your past?
And the third one is intuition, which really are mindfulness practices, but it’s learning to slow down and get out of that prefrontal cortex and that busy thinking and, and slow it down enough to be able to hear like what your in, in, uh, sorry your intuition is telling you, right?
So that it’s always there for all of us. And it’s just much more subtle and soft and quiet, and you need to slow down enough to be able to hear it.
So I support them on how to develop each of those lenses a little bit more and then how to put them together, um, and, and do the self work first.
And when you do the self work first, what it supports you to do is to, is to be self-aware for you to know yourself and to start to committing, to building and deepening yourself.
And you’re in your own self development. When you do that, then you’re ready to do the school work, which I also train them on, which is, you know, usually wanting to change something in their classroom or in their school.
And that’s much more of the intellectually based stuff. But if you don’t have a good grounding in yourself, you’re not able to look at yourself and your own patterns, it’s unlikely.
You’re going to be really effective in any kind of changes you want to make. So, yeah. Right. So doing all of that work, lays the foundation for you to be able to make effective, uh, process decisions about how do I implement ABC and getting, you know, getting something moving forward.
I would make these changes. If you’re all like out of whack and stressed, you’re not going to be able to prioritize effectively or implement things under stress.
So you can be much more effective as well. Yeah. Dr. Kristin Neff studies, um, mindful self-compassion, which I don’t know if you’ve heard about mindful self-compassion, but it’s mindfulness plus a self-compassionate lens.
And she, and she has the same cycle as mine. Um, and she likes it to a union, which can be helpful too.
So the inside is what I call the self care or the self nurturing side. So you, you do that, you, you take care of yourself so that you’re able to take care of the world or act on the world in a different way, which is the young side.
And the more you take more, you act in the world, the more you need to connect back in with yourself, again, to ready yourself, to go back out into the world again.
So it’s kind of a, a cycle that it requires both sides. You can’t always just be giving and, you know, being contributing to your school or support your classroom and not ever giving back to yourself.
So you need to have both of those sides together so that you can actually do it the most effectively. So it union could be a helpful way to thinking about it too.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So how long have you been involved in this kind of work? You Know, I’ve been an educator for, um, 27 years and, uh, I have had a practice actually since I was a child.
So I think for me, I always was that kind of a teacher, um, or that kind of an educator. So I, I always struggled with how it was that some educators were strong with classroom management or, or connected with kids and some weren’t.
And I actually think it connects back to this mindfulness piece. Um, and the second one. Oh, so Could you, could you say a little bit more about that?
Uh, like what would be the distinct cause I know for a lot of educators out there, there’s some of them listening and, and other people, cause there’s, there’s a lot of ways this kind of thing applies to not just educators, but you know, team management and, um, in businesses as well.
It’s kind of like, what, what do you notice are the key distinction there in terms of those who manage those classrooms?
Well, versus those who Yeah. You know, I think a term that’s fairly popular these days, which is a helpful way of thinking about it is emotional intelligence and resilience, right?
So, uh, and I think mindfulness helps you with both of those things. Um, so, uh, emotional intelligence simply is just knowing your own emotions and your, your needs and feelings and being able to, um, as you practice more with that, being able to have some control over them.
So rather than just reacting to everything that’s happening in your world and your experience, and not even knowing why you’re mad or upset or happy or whatever, um, when you develop your emotional intelligence, you start to understand what are those triggers for you?
Uh, what are the things that bring you joy? What are the places where you’re going to feel stressed? So that just is helpful in and of itself.
Um, and then when you start to regulate that or manage that, um, it helps you then to be able to make different wiser and more, um, supportive decisions.
When you put that into a classroom, it’s really important because, um, we have, we’re all mammals. So we’re part of the mammalian nervous system and the memoriam nervous system has, we all have we’re called mirror neurons, which basically means that, um, we instinctively not intentionally.
We don’t like put, turn on a switch when we come into a room, but we instinctively monitor and respond to and reflect back the energy of the folks that were around.
Um, especially if we’re in a, in a position where we’re the support in a subordinate position. So for teachers, um, if they’re in a bad mood, if they’re coming to the classroom and feeling angry or upset or triggered in some way, even if they don’t say that to their kids, that energy is being read by their students and their students are picking up on it and they’re reacting.
However, they react to that kind of a threat or that kind of an energy. It could be positive too. So if a teacher’s coming in and they’re really grounded and happy the kids and train onto that as well, and it helps them to calm down and regulate and be more attentive in class.
Um, but if the teacher is angry or the teachers, um, having, you know, a bad day, which all of us have, um, the kids will pick up on that and then they’ll start to respond.
So is this really important for us as educators to know that, um, our nervous systems, the way that we’re responding the world has a direct impact on our students?
Um, not only in terms of behavior, but also in terms of learning. So when a teacher is, is, is stressed out in kids react to that, the fight flight freeze response gets kicked on and actually their ability to learn that prefrontal cortex I was talking about that’s off.
Um, so that’s a problem. Yeah. So I hear you saying that, you know, by being aware of your own state, you can influence the, your capacity to, uh, well, you’re basically owning your influence, you know, to, to improve the availability of, of, uh, of, of your students or your teammates in such a way that they can participate in a learning experience or a team experience more effectively than if you’re just completely unaware of, uh, you know, you’re coming into the room, all wired and messed up and, and then suddenly you’re not, you know, your, your, your team activity, your class activity turns into chaos.
It’s just a reflection of your inner world In that. Exactly. Yeah. Beautiful. Yeah. I, uh, took a training in a class called loving presence with the man called Ron Kurtz who created the Hakomi method of somatic psychotherapy.
And he had a lesson, which I kind of always stuck with me. He would say, um, he talked about something similar.
And the analogy he gave was like, well, if you take it, and if you look at ants and you can find, and you take an ant and you kind of like, you know, you start to look at it and you find that, and they were doing this, they were noticing what these answers do.
Not vary. Like they don’t move very much, you know, and he’s looked, they’re looking at the answers as to barely moving around at all.
It hardly has. So how does that, how does a hive ever get created where these answers just barely even moving?
And then they found out they put like two or three more together and, and they got a little more active and they put like, you know, a hundred together and suddenly it’s first thing.
What they found out is that they bump into each other. And when they bump into each other, they transmit a phenom room, you know, like a scent thing that seems to like activate them into doing something more along the thing that hybrid needs to do.
And individually they don’t do much, but collectively they communicate an entire, uh, agenda of, you know, Hey, let’s build live, let’s do this, let’s get things happening.
And I think that there’s something in the animal kingdom as a whole, about how we influence each other and the notion of owning your impact is a really big step.
Um, and a lot of people don’t really, haven’t really thought about that in much in a serious way, because really it’s a big deal to sit down and go, well, how am I impacting other people?
And is that the impact I want to be having is the other part of that question. It’s a really great point because hard, sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge what our impact is on others.
And, uh, it’s hard to face when we make it can be hard to know. It’s hard to know. And sometimes it’s hard to where do you, I mean, where do you go to get that information like in business world, in, uh, uh, enterprises, it’s, it’s not, we’re even in smaller companies, even, it’s not too uncommon to have a thing, they call a 360 review and that would be where have you, have you ever heard of something like that?
So, yeah, so, you know, there, you’re getting feedback from your peers and your upper management and those below you about how you’re coming across, you know, how am I being, you know, am I impacting?
Um, and in that case, you know, and, and so when I was doing a group leadership training, oh, matrix leadership, it was like, one of the exercises we had was, uh, after we got to know each other for a while, we put a piece of paper on our, on everybody’s back and you walked around the room and you wrote on the piece of paper, like one or two things that you felt was true about the other person.
And this was not, you know, walking in cold, this was after spending hours and hours with people, uh, for a few days.
And so, and, and the thing is it’s like, after, after you’ve got like 20 people giving you some piece of information about how they see you, you take it off and you look at it and you go, oh, this is pretty reasonably objective in the sense that, you know, there’s no agenda going on here, it’s anonymous.
And if, and the, and the thing is, it’s like if 10 people tell you that you’re argumentative and confrontational, that’s a clue about how you’re coming across.
And is that the way you want to be coming across is really the key thing. I feel like I’m talking too much.
So I do have a question I want to ask, like, how did you get involved in all this? Like you said, I’m curious, cause you said you were studying to be mindful when you were a child.
So what’s, what’s that About? Well, I grew up in Berkeley in the seventies and they liked to experiment with things.
So I would say that’s probably how that came about. Um, you know, but, uh, you know, how did I get involved with it older?
Um, you know, I think mindfulness is one of those things that I didn’t always see the connection to my regular life.
I love things to get very busy as we all do, and I allowed my practice to fall away. So I definitely had a, um, a practice for a long time that was very episodic.
So I’d be fine, everything was good. And then suddenly things would get hard as life does. And then I dive back into mindfulness and once I felt better again, then I would leave it.
Um, and so I definitely used it as like a coping strategy, but rather in less slow than like an embodied life way of being.
Um, but I started, I started integrating it in because I, I have a long career in education and my specialty is creating change in educational settings.
And those changes are often can be experienced and change has always felt as somewhat threatening to all of us. Right.
Even a small change can feel threatening. Um, yeah, of course. And I often am involved in big changes, like closing schools or opening schools or chain like big stuff.
And what I found was I was getting really, um, I was getting really burned out from how I was connecting with my peers at work because everyone was stressed out.
And so we were all kind of like nipping at each other a little bit. Um, but also just feeling really challenged with how to continue to be in a position where I was taking that much, you know, kind of being exposed to that much energy positive or negative and how to cope with it better.
So, um, I started integrating mindfulness practices into my day cause I was like, well, it can’t hurt. So let me try it out and see if this helps me feel better.
Um, and it really did, um, kind of maybe to what you named at the beginning, but, you know, my thing was like, I’m like I knew the first one too.
Well, I want everyone to sit and do a minute of mindfulness before we started meeting. And I want to do that before I hosted meetings with large school communities.
And that’s where my mind went first. And then I immediately went to like, well, I can’t force people to do that.
And that’s going to probably create a lot of drama and I can’t, you know, that’s my agenda, I’m putting on other people.
So I can’t do that. So then I was like, well, what can I do? Well, I can practice. So I just started practicing and seeing what would happen.
And, you know, I did a few very basic mindfulness practices, three breaths, you know, when I would come in the room, just remind myself, how am I feeling?
What’s my goal for this meeting or this moment. And, you know, just connecting back in with my body again, I also just started just being really aware of, of how I was being around other people and put a real effort in being as positive and affirming as possible.
And the more I did that, the more the environment around me changed without me having to do anything else. So, you know, the more I was aware and I was grounded and I was positive, then the relationship and the interactions with me was better.
And I found that I could have helped to create more positive meetings and more positive spaces wherever I was. Um, so that, that made me hooked.
It’s amazing. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I just, you’re just, you’re really landing on the heart of what I call the language of mindfulness.
You know, it’s like by speaking from this more mindful place, it changed the conversation and that conversation allowed you to be better and love the relationships to be better and allowed you to get more work done and everybody would be happier.
And all you had to do was all you had to do was change who you were. Right. Well, Right. So this is what I share with the teachers.
It’s not about teaching mindfulness to kids, although we could do that. And that’s great, but it’s much more around embodying mindfulness practices or being mindful during the day, whatever it is that we’re doing.
And the more we embody that. And really, again, that’s just being as being present as you know, um, to whatever is here, not, you know, being in the future or in the past, but being present to what’s here and noticing what’s here, that changes everything.
Um, and it’s a practice being embodied as a practice. I spend plenty of my day off somewhere else, you know, not in time, not in the current time and space, but the more I become aware of that, I bring myself back to the present moment and it just, it just helps a lot.
Um, it helps all over the places I’m sure. You know, but yeah, That’s amazing. So how, how embodied Are you?
Right, right now I’d say I’m 80% embodied right now. So I’ve got my, I’ve got some sensors out to some things.
I mean, they’re in my present moment, but, um, you know, I think I’m mostly right here right now and I’m enjoying this conversation and that that’s always really helpful.
Um, and yeah, and I’m a little bit, I have a like 20% of like, what’s coming next. So I will admit, I have a little bit of my head.
I’m like, okay, I have to pivot. Um, so, but you know, but that’s the way it is. And then I bring myself back here and, and away we go, Right.
Is that going out, coming back, coming back, it’s like the coming back. That’s what I try to tell people all the time.
It’s really that moment where you come back, that’s really the leverage. That’s the mindful moment, you know, it’s so beautiful.
Yeah. Um, so what’s next for you? What are you planning on doing with, uh, just doing more of the same?
Are you, you have any plans with your, with your project? You know, I have some talks coming up, so that’s really exciting and I’ll be able to post them if folks want to follow me or find out more about mindfulness and education, going to the website’s a great place to go.
So www.yourthenumberthreeeyes.com. Um, I am teaching a mindfulness retreat for educators at the end of the month of June, um, which is all around, just again, exactly what we talked about, embodied mindfulness, um, that you can do during your day.
And then I have some workshops for educators over the summer. This has been a heck of a year as you know, and, um, in classrooms and in schools, it’s been really challenging.
And, um, the gift of this moment is that there’s a realization that attending to our wellbeing, our social, emotional wellbeing, integrated mindfulness, and other kinds of practices like this into the school day is important for adults and kids alike.
And, um, and there’s actually some funding for it. So in some states it’s on a national over there, provide some funding.
I live in California, there’s a ton of funding going just for that. Um, so I’m providing some workshops for educators this summer on how to use that funding, um, so they can do it the most effectively.
Um, and just so again, demystifying some of what we’ve been talking about here, but also just how to, how to do that planning stuff that the young side that we talked about, um, at their school.
So that’s what I’m up to this summer. So if you had to give somebody a tip on like, what meat, oh, here’s the question I wanted to ask?
Can you tell me, um, like a time when you noted that your mindfulness skill and your capacity really made a difference, either a project or a relationship or conversation?
Like, is there a moment where you go, oh, my, that, that would have gone really different? Had I not been able To be more mindful?
Yeah. You know, I have a, I’m a single mom and I have a 12 year old son. And so I feel like I’ve been given regular opportunities with him, but even just yesterday, he was having, he was having a day, you know, and it was, it of twelve-year-olds these moments happen all the time.
And he, we were decorating a cake, which felt like a simple and fairly easy and enjoyable task, but he was having a hard time.
And, you know, I noticed my inner landscape is that was happening and there was some frustration and there was some concern and there was some like, just confusion, like why, why is all of this coming out now over this task that we’ve done dozens of times.
Um, and so I, I noted all of those things and I gave myself a little bit of a space. Um, and I breathed a little bit, and I was able to get curious about what was going on for him rather than reacting to, you know, with frustration or some of the other things that were also there.
Like, I’m like, it’s just a cake, like move on. That was where my mind was going. But I knew that it was more than just a cake.
It wasn’t just a cake for whatever was happening to him. Yes, exactly. Something was going on behind the scenes driving.
So I was just able to calm down enough and give myself enough space and have that clarity to ask him what was going on and connect back in with him.
And it led to a really beautiful conversation and he was able to share that actually it was a mountain of things that culminated with the cake, right.
That we were able to, and that’s what it is. Right. It’s not magical. It’s just beautiful. It’s just having that perspective and a little bit more space.
Well, and enough space to not be reactive yourself and instead enough space for what I would call it, or like organic curiosity to arise.
Well, what’s really going on here. And then enough skill to actually pose the question. That’s, that’s a lot of a skill and I think it’s, it’s hard to teach, but it’s beautiful to learn.
And, and like you say, it’s not rocket science, it’s just learning to have doing the work that you’ve been doing for, you know, your life to kind of notice, breathe, relax, see, oh, look here.
What is going on in choir? And then hold space for the, for the relationship. That’s a, that’s a lot of talent.
So thank you for, for doing that hard work. I really appreciate it. And I’ll be having your son I’ll record you for the times when he doesn’t like what I had decided.
That’s right. I have a guy who’s going to thank me on your behalf. So thank you. Thank you. By proxy.com.
Yeah. Well, it has been so fun talking to you and, um, I just, I’m so happy that you’re doing this work.
It’s so crucial and critical. Uh, not only for the educators, but for the students who benefit from more grounded, more embodied educators in the, on the planet.
And of course, you know, those waters, Lyft does rising tides, lift all boats and, and, um, so thank you so much for coming and sharing your journey and your, your mission.
Um, is there anything you would like to say to people like if they were interested in learning to be mindful, like what, what would be like a tip you could give them to help them on their, Yeah, I would say don’t make it complicated.
Just start doing things that you love and that bring you joy. That’s it just start there, just that that’s master level advice there.
Thank you so much once again, and really patient. So that’s a wrap on today’s edition of the language of mindfulness podcast.
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We really appreciate it and check us out at languageandmindfulness.com where you can sign up for a free coaching session or download our pdf on eight ways to be more mindful in a virtual meeting. That anguageofmindfulness.com/8ways
And we’re looking forward to a lot of great content coming up as well. Have a great one and stay present.