Educator wins funding to explore mindfulness
After 16 years of teaching summer school, MHS Orchestra Teacher Diane Rosenthal will spend summer break on the Pacific coast learning meditation skills, thanks to funding from the Lilly Endowment.
She was the recipient of a $12,000 Teacher Creativity Fellowship. The Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program is a competitive program with the purpose of recognizing, re-energizing and supporting Indiana educators.
“It is my goal to return to my students revitalized and invigorated by the benefits of meditation,” said Ms. Rosenthal, who is a 20-year teaching veteran. “I hope to be able to bring renewed energy to the climate in my classroom and become a more innovative contributor to the overall school community.”
This fellowship enables educators to pursue their dreams and passions, explore new areas of interest, and develop new and existing talents.
“Knowing I needed to find some balance in my life and some downtime for my constantly whirling brain, I looked into both yoga and meditation,” she said. “I got a taste of what mindfulness can offer and am anxious for a more immersive and in-depth experience.”
The funding will allow Ms. Rosenthal, who has been with Merrillville schools for 16 years, to use the summer for an immersive experience in meditation and mindfulness in a nature-based setting. She said he is looking forward to gaining the ability to “quiet the mind” to be centered and focused in her personal life and in her role as a teacher, mentor and safe haven for her students.
Ms. Rosenthal said the concept of being “behind the waterfall” came from some of her research into meditation.
“The idea is that there is a space behind a waterfall where the rush of water goes past, but you can remain dry,” Ms. Rosenthal explained. “When stressful thoughts overtake the brain, or situations outside of yourself threaten your sense of peace, you can mindfully go to your center (behind the waterfall of these details) and remain unaffected. The stresses go past, not unacknowledged, but without the power to destabilize your peace and focus.”
The strategy really called to her, because water has always been central to her life, Ms. Rosenthal added.
“I feel my best self when I can see, and especially hear, water,” she said. “Learning to deepen my ability to focus inward in a water-based setting seemed to be the perfect combination.”
For the past three years, Ms. Rosenthal has incorporated basic focus breathing into pre-rehearsal and concert warm-ups with her students. She said the new knowledge she will gain would allow her to deepen and expand that practice.
“I feel strongly that these strategies can benefit my students in other academic and social situations in their lives in high school and beyond,” she said. “I am hopeful that this can have a ripple effect within the school community.”