After reading Dr Edith Eger’s first book “The choice” over a year ago, I knew I had found a treasure that I would go back to many a time in the future. Since then I’ve made a conscious decision
-to review the choices I make daily
-to be aware of my thoughts and words
-not to allow myself to be trapped in my mind
-to help my students flourish
The renowned psychologist and Holocaust survivor’s powerful story reinforced my professional desire to learn more about the mind and create more teaching resources which would allow my students to believe in themselves and unleash their full potential.
In my opinion, one of the most striking scenes in the book is when 16-year-old Edith is asked to dance for Dr Mengele, aka the Angel of Death, on her first day in Auschwitz. The petrified teenager closes her eyes and imagines dancing to “Romeo and Juliet” in the Budapest Opera House.
Even though Edith was in prison, she wouldn’t allow anyone to imprison her spirit. Because “victimhood is optional.”
I often see students being trapped in their parents’ ambitions and feeling disempowered after being told: “You are NOT good ENOUGH.” Stooped shoulders carry buried dreams and stubs of broken wings.
I used to feel powerless after classes. However, after reassessing my choices I decided to use my students’ emotional pain to fuel my determination to help them transform.
Keen to grow, I am always seeking new methods to merge mindfulness, positive psychology and modern language teaching. So I was really pleased when Dr Eger released her second book “The Gift” two weeks ago. Curled in my favourite armchair, I was devouring every sentence that resonated with me, every lesson that I can use in my life but also utilise in my classes to save a student’s life.
The psychologist shares twelve priceless lessons some of which I had to highlight brightly:
-hope allows us to live in the present moment;
-step out of victimhood boldly in order to live your life fully
-self-care is of crucial importance for our well-being
-embrace your uniqueness
-turn your fears into love
The latter was a big A-HA moment for me. After reading the chapter on FEAR, I had to pause and contemplate how I was dealing with the frightful thoughts that often take over my mind. Then I decided to sit quietly, take a few deep breaths and…write a poem. Here’s my little creation:
Mindfully Calming my Fears
I often feel the pangs of fear
and this is when I long to hear
that I am strong and I can fight
because I always carry my inner light.
When the obnoxious chatter gets quite loud
I sit quietly and take notice of the dark cloud
hanging menacingly over my head
and even though I want to curl up in my bed
I decide to take a straight posture
in order to regain my soul composure.
Inhaling deeply makes me feel alive
and I sense that my spirit wants to thrive
Then I gradually draw my attention
to the sounds coming from every direction
I can hear the enchanting song of the nightingale
but the fast beat of my heart seems to prevail
I glance around and spot my Tibetan singing bowl,
which reminds me to look inside my fearful soul.
My fingers feel the solid meditation cushion,
then my soft cotton T-shirt long gone out of fashion
I breathe in again and strong lavender fragrance
reaches me and attempts to restore my inner balance.
Finally, I close my eyes to connect with my taste buds
and find forgotten traces of Sunday lunch and roasted spuds.
Breathing out I bring my awareness
to the inner lightness and happiness.
Now I know the mindful tools to use
when I feel the darkness is breaking loose
I can always make a conscious choice
to silence the disempowering voice
By turning to my breath and five senses
and witness how joyfully my soul dances.
Throughout the book, Dr Eger constantly reminds us to celebrate our imperfections and wholeness. Thank you, Edith, for writing these amazing books that every educator should read and remind us that each of us is a gift in the world.