November Spotlight: Reflection and Mindfulness

November Spotlight: Reflection and Mindfulness

November can be a difficult month. Although the harsh winter cold hasn’t fully set in yet, it can often feel like the beginning of a long winter season. It is the lull between the excitement of Halloween (which can be exhausting in itself) and the anticipation of winter holidays. This is also the time of year when those working in the education sector are in full swing with report cards, engaging students further in their studies and the winter break may feel out of reach. It can be hard not to get stuck in the slog and find it difficult not to look too far ahead.

November also signifies Remembrance Day, which gives us a chance to pause and reflect on where we have come from and where we want to go. But rather than get stuck in the past or anxious about what the future may bring, we can use the practice of mindfulness to help us find peace in the present moment.

Mindfulness is about being in the present moment; taking time to intentionally notice our breath going in and out as we let go of our thoughts, without judgement (Kabat-Zinn,

1) Get comfortable

Find place to sit or lie down that feels calm and quiet to you. There is no right or wrong way – do whatever feels good for you. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.

2) Set a time limit

If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.

3) Notice your body

Pay attention to the different parts of your body. What are you noticing? Where are you noticing?

4) Feel your breath

Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out. Fill your belly deeply, hold then let it all out.

5) Notice when your mind has wandered

Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.

6) Be kind to your wandering mind

Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.

7) Close with kindness

When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. (Kabat-Zinn,

Ways to practice mindfulness can look different for everyone and can be used in a variety of different scenarios depending on what you need and want. Here are a few ways you can incorporate mindfulness activities in your everyday routine.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and how it may be helpful to apply in your own life, we encourage you to check out the free Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Mindfulness (CBTm) courses available through the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Care for All in Education support service:

We also encourage you to check out the additional resources on Mindfulness available on the CFAE (Care for All in Education) web portal