Postpartum depression brought Sarah Rudell Beach a sense of overwhelm she had never experienced before. She revived some mindfulness practices she learned in her prenatal yoga class and never looked back.
When she returned to the classroom in the Wayzata Public School District in Minneapolis, Sarah shared these practices in her high school social studies classes.
We caught up with Sarah to understand how her mindfulness practice and training with Mindful Schools sparked more creativity and fulfillment in her life.
Name: Sarah Rudell Beach
Cohort: Mindful Teacher Class of 2015
My work with kids: High School Social Studies Teacher for 17 years, Parent, and Founder Brilliant Mindfulness. I now work with all ages of kids (K-college), as well as with teachers and other adults
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Connect with me on: Facebook, Twitter
Tell us about a time in your adult life that you struggled and how your overcame it.
After the birth of my two children, I suffered from postpartum depression. Being a mom was amazing, but it was incredibly hard. I felt completely overwhelmed by the demands of parenting AND working full time. I honestly felt incompetent in a way I never really had before. I also developed pretty bad anxiety and started having panic attacks.
I had actually been introduced to mindfulness in prenatal yoga. Picking it up again as a new-ish mom was life-changing! With a deepened mindfulness practice, I was able to change how I related to all the negative chatter in my head, and I wasn’t so reactive to all the little (and big!) crises in parenting. I also got support by going to therapy and talking to my doctor.
Establishing a practice can be daunting for anyone, but perhaps especially for parents who feel overwhelmed and busy, like you just explained. What’s a simple step a parent could take to kick start their practice?
In my book, I write about the “Take Three Breaths” practice – because sometimes, as busy parents, that’s all we have time for! Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, and focus on the inhale as you bring nourishing oxygen to your entire body. On the second breath, focus on the exhale, and enjoy the soothing, relaxing effect of the out-breath. On the third breath, breathe in what you need – patience, love, or understanding – and breathe out what you don’t need – perhaps anger, resentment, or worry. Then open your eyes and notice how you feel!
Can you tell us a little about your students?
I was a high school social studies teacher for 17 years, primarily teaching AP European History. My students were so stressed out and SO thankful for learning some strategies to manage their anxiety. One student in particular, who’d been in all three of my classes, wrote me a note at the end of the year thanking me for all he had learned, and the most important was mindfulness.
I still live in the district where I taught for all those years, and some students still come up to me saying, “I remember when we ate those raisins mindfully!” or “I’m still doing my mindfulness!” They rarely tell me that they still remember the different phases of the French Revolution. Don’t get me wrong—mindfulness AND the French Revolution are both very important, but these kids remind me that the most important things we do as teachers are building relationships and teaching lifelong skills.
While there are days that I miss teaching so much it hurts, I love the path my career has taken. Now I’m dedicated to another passion – developing mindfulness programs for families and schools. I coach, teach, blog, and have written a book, Mindful Moments for Busy Moms, to share a few of my life’s lessons as a busy mom.
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
DEFINITELY an early-bird. I wake up at 5am, grab my coffee (it’s a pre-meditation essential for me!), and sit for 20 minutes. Then it’s getting kids ready for school, taking the dogs for a walk, and finally getting to my work day.
What are your evenings like?
My children and I are all dancers, so most nights of the week I’m at the dance studio, either watching my little hip-hoppers, teaching dance classes, or dancing in the “Moms’ Class.” I also do some tutoring in the evenings – I tutor students in AP European History, which has been a great way for me to get my social studies teacher fix!
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
Right now, my son and I are reading Ready Player One, so I read to him, we share some snuggles … and then I’m ready to crash.
Thanks Sarah for sharing your story!
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