Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Don’t Forget to Breathe

BreatheWhen my sisters and I were young, our dad created a family comic strip he entitled Smithereens. The names he gave my sisters and me fit with elements of our personality. My older sister was Bookworm, and my comedienne wannabe younger sister was Funnyface. I was Busybody, not because I was a child gossip but because I’ve always had trouble being still.

Recently, in preparation for leading a discussion on communication, I reviewed some Myers-Briggs information. Some of the descriptions of “my” personality made me quirk an eyebrow, but this part made me laugh: “analyzing anything life throws their way.”[1] Work, screens and household chores can all distract this “busybody” from rest, but my biggest obstacle is my brain. It has no on-off switch which makes being still challenging and probably disqualifies me from writing this post. I’ve found, though, that breathing helps…

Stop & Breathe

China has a lovely concept called 休息. The word could literally be translated “stop and breathe.” Lunch break lasts for two hours. People eat and then stop to breathe; they rest until it’s time to go back to school or work. I’m not a napper, but I’ve attempted to develop a habit of resting. After lunch, I shut down my computer and phone and set a timer for 30 minutes of silence.

While breathing, since I struggle to turn off my brain, I’ve learned to put it to work on something restful. Prayers from The Valley of Vision[2] provide a good entry point. Our teacher lectionary helps and so does worship music. Lately, what’s been most helpful is meditating on Scripture. There’s nothing better for my analytical brain than to work through (and over and under, up and down, and inside and out) a passage from the Word.

The Practice of Sabbath

Years ago I had a teammate who practiced a weekly Sabbath. I hope my response to her explanation was respectful on the outside because I know what I was thinking on the inside, “How in the world do you get all your lesson planning, grading and chores done if you don’t work one whole day each week?” Now, though, I’m thankful for the seed she planted. Squeezing everything into six days of labor requires discipline (and sometimes I fail), but I look forward to and even long for my weekly Sabbath, not just 30 minutes but a whole day to stop and breathe.

Recently I admitted to a friend that my Sabbath sometimes gets frittered away. His listening ear got me back on track…for now anyway. Now the first half of the day feeds my spirit. It is for worship, learning, and listening. The second half is for physical and mental rest.

My brain’s constant analyzing usually involves problem-solving. So what do I do when there is no solution? Fret, “gradually wearing away by rubbing or gnawing,”[3] is the perfect word to describe what I do with the unsolvable intricacies of work and life. Eventually that fretting wears away at my soul. Not long ago, while a friend was celebrating with me my ability to do a new exercise, she said, “Don’t forget to breathe.” Sound advice for the body. Healing words for a raw soul.

[1]  “INTJ Personality (“The Architect”),”, accessed 6/21/2016,
[2]  The Valley of Vision, ed. Arthur Bennett (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2012).

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

We welcome your comments on any of the ideas in this post or in answer to the questions below.

  • How do you stop and breathe?
  • What do you do to rest and/or play that refreshes you for the classroom?
  • How do you find stillness in the busyness of teaching? 

Post Author

Melissa K. Smith


Photo Credit: via Compfight cc

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This entry was posted on August 3, 2016 by in be still, Melissa K. Smith, rest.



Photo Credit: Eric Fischer via Compfight cc
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