OCY: I knew about meditation way back but the very first time I got to know about mindfulness was when Erin and I had a discussion about Vipassana Meditation.
MiMo: Tell us about your experience in the MBSR program.
OCY: I enrolled in the MBSR program in August 2015 in Singapore. The 8-week program was fulfilling and experiential. I could put all the teachings and principles of mindfulness into action and apply them in my daily practice. The biggest challenge was to commit to a scheduled slot of time every day for mindfulness practice - without giving myself any convenient excuses!
MiMo: How has mindfulness contributed to your personal well-being?
OCY: I feel my personal well-being has improved tremendously since I began practicing mindfulness from moment to moment in my everyday life. I feel more grounded in the here and now, rather than worry too much about the future and regret the things I've done or have not achieved in the past. Whenever I get anxious, I will just try to stop thinking negatively and start breathing. Breathing in and I know I am breathing in. Breathing out and I know I am breathing out. When I am paying attention to my breath, I am able to keep my mind calm to work with the challenges I encounter in life.
MiMo: How has mindfulness supported you in your professional work?
OCY: As an educator and coach, mindfulness has helped me manage my level of stress in education management as well as more effectively coach my core team in 1-to-1 digital teaching and learning - a relatively new area of curriculum integration which many teachers are still getting used to. I practice deep, mindful listening when I have dialogues with my colleagues and the young learners in school; I find that I am more compassionate when dealing with the problems or difficult situations that my team members have to face; and most importantly, I am always aware of my emotions and energy in different work scenarios - this has been especially helpful for me in managing my stress levels.
MiMo: How have you incorporated mindfulness into your daily life?
OCY: I meditate and do the body scan practice twice a day, and I schedule a mindful swim of about 20 minutes every day. Whenever I am walking, I will remind myself to walk mindfully - Singaporeans tend to walk quite fast due to our more stressful pace of life, and I have found that it takes practice to remain mindful when we are walking at a faster speed!
MiMo: Any words of advice for people who are thinking about learning mindfulness?
OCY: Mindfulness is a liberation of the soul and a lifelong skill that every human being should acquire. It will help you discover your true authentic self, I promise. And I personally feel that mindfulness training is much needed in the education field, especially for our teachers, because of the heavy responsibilities we have in nurturing the future generations of Singapore. I believe that only mindful teachers can nurture and develop mindful learners. I strongly encourage teachers, principals and even students to learn and practice mindfulness.
About Ooi Ching Ya
A former trainer at the Ministry of Education Singapore and key founding member of the School of Science and Technology Singapore (SST), Ching Ya is currently Special Advisor to the Principal at RDFZ XISHAN SCHOOL in Beijing China. As a strategic consultant who bridges the educational development between Singapore and China, Ching Ya is focusing her contributions on international relations, branding, as well as lifelong learning in global digital education. She is passionate about showcasing how technology can support the rich interactions and connections across life. In 2015, Ching Ya was selected to sit on Apple Inc's ADE Regional Advisory Board for Asia-Pacific, and is responsible for the professional development of Apple Distinguished Educators in individualized digital teaching and learning.