Mindfulness with Beverly Fernandez

Mindfulness is a topic we hear a lot about. But what really is mindfulness? What does it look like? And how can we use it in the classroom with our students? 

In this episode of the Counselor Chat Podcast, I interview Beverly Fernandez, also known as ‘Counselor Bev’. Beverly dives deep into the topic of mindfulness and its powerful impact on both students and educators.

Mindfulness is all about appreciating the present moment, helping us break free from stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression. By being fully present and anchoring our thoughts to our senses, we can experience greater clarity and emotional well-being.

Topics Covered:

  • Beverly Fernandez discusses the concept of mindfulness and its importance in being present and reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Strategies for incorporating mindfulness in the classroom such as using breathing, senses, art, music, and movement.
  • Introducing mindfulness to students while respecting individual preferences and beliefs 
  • Tips for counselors to practice mindfulness in their own lives such as self-reflection and taking pauses to gain clarity.
  • Beverly’s favorite mindfulness activities, such as breath work, using scents like peppermint, and appreciating water

Beverly Fernandez is a licensed mental health professional and certified thetahealing practitioner. She is a counselor educator and school counselor from the Philippines.

Connect with Beverly Fernandez:

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Transcript

Carol: You're listening to the Counselor Chat Podcast, a show for school counselors looking for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy. I'm Carol Miller, your host. I'm a full time school counselor and the face behind counseling essentials. I'm all about creating simplified systems, data driven practices, and using creative approaches to engage age students. If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact on student growth and success, you're in the right place. Because we're better together. Ready to chat? Let's dive in, buddy. Welcome back to Counselor Chat. Thanks for joining us again this week. Today I have a really wonderful guest on the podcast. Her name is Beverly Fernandez, and I have to say, while I was interviewing Bev, I totally forgot to have her shout out her contact information. So I will be adding that to the show notes. But Beverly Fernandez is also known as Counselor Bev if you search her online, her website, her Instagram, and her Facebook page. So she is known as Counselor Bev. Now, Bev is a counselor educator, school counselor in the Philippines, and I will tell you, it was such a treat. We have a twelve hour time difference between the two of us, and it was about time for me to go to bed and it's time for her to wake up in the morning. So it was really interesting. We were on two different days, but it was a blast. And Beverly is going to talk to us today all about using Mindfulness in our practice. There was a couple of things I said, wow, I can really use this right away with kids. So I hope that you do take a listen and that you find it really helpful. But before we jump in, I just want to share that I recently received this really sweet podcast review. And this is still a brand new podcast. And when I talk into the microphone, I don't know if anyone is listening because I can't see any faces. So if I actually see a review come in, I feel like, oh wow, someone's actually listening. This is great. And I'm not just wasting my time just talking to myself or in this case, with Beverly. But thank you very much. This is from Sammy. Sammy Fun. And it says wonderful. Thank you, Carol, for creating this informative podcast. It has been a great help as a new counselor to get this insight from someone I've been following for a while. I still get nervous on what to do, and hearing you speak on what I'm doing in practice makes me feel like I'm on the right track. Sammy. Sammy fun. I am sure you are doing a fantastic job. We all are doing the very best that we can, and every day is just a new adventure. But I want to say thank you so much for this really sweet review. It really does mean so much. And for those of you listening, if you want to share a little love and let me know that you are actually listening, please leave a review and hopefully I can read it on the air as well. But let's go right into the podcast. And here we go. Up next, mindfulness with Beverly Fernandez. So, hello everyone and welcome back to the Council Chat podcast. I am so excited. Today we have a guest all the way from today. We are here with Beverly Hernandez, who is a college counselor. And I am just going to let Beverly jump in here so that she can introduce herself.

Bev: Hi, everyone. Hi Carol. Good day to all of your listeners. I am Bev and I'm a college counselor. I also work with students in a master's level, and I am a counselor educator, a counselor practitioner, and also a counselor supervisor at that. So there, welcome.

Carol: So for our listeners, just so they know, you are also going to be one of our speakers at our summer counselor conference. And I know that you'll be doing a session called Appreciating the Here and now mindfulness applies in class. So I was actually maybe you could tell us a little bit about your session and how we can use some mindfulness in our classes.

Bev: Yeah. So basically, mindfulness is about appreciating the here and now, because most of the time, our minds, not only for our students, but even for teachers, even for counselor educators, counselor practitioners, our mind is practically either in the past or somewhere in the future. And that usually cause us stress, burnout, anxiety or depression. Not in the clinical sense, but in an experiential sense that we experience this emotional turmoil. And one of the approaches to really just go about that or how we could prevent at least these turmoils, emotional turmoils, is to be present because when we experience anxiety, we're in the future, and when we experience sadness, it's because we feel regret from the past. So it's either you're in the future or in the past. And basically the solution of that based from this approach, which is mindfulness is being in the present and really acknowledging that, yes, thoughts are automatic and that thoughts are neutral. Sometimes we label these emotions like sadness, anger, anticipation, excitement, as either bad emotions, bad feelings, or good feelings at that. And that's really acknowledging, Carol, that these are emotions, period. They are neither bad nor good. So in the practice of mindfulness, it will really bring into awareness that thoughts are neutral, all our experiences are neutral. And to really just accept notice first that these are popping up into our awareness and really just have the presence and just anchor it somewhere in our senses, whether that be on our breathing or on our other senses, such as sight, sense of smell, sense of touch. So, yeah, that's basically the overview of what mindfulness is. So now to answer your question, how can we apply this in the classroom. So just like that, there are a lot of stimuli. Some students are really anxious to just go about the next us, or perhaps they feel overwhelmed from the different expectations they set to themselves or even from others, or even the workload that they are receiving. Again, applicable not only for students, but even for educators at that. So really acknowledging that the cost of this is really anticipation of future goals because you're so much into the future and really not appreciating yet, and noticing and setting the awareness to here and now, then it's more of not an outside practice in the classroom, but it should be integrated. So it should be integrated in the tasks or in classroom discussions, whether in the beginning, during, and even end of the class. So there are different approaches in mindfulness that you can basically incorporate in your classroom interactions. So that's it.

Carol: Right. I think mindfulness is a pretty big thing in so many places. I think a lot of schools are actually using it, but I think there's still a lot of even counselors that are maybe a little bit fearful to use it. I know sometimes I'll go into a classroom and I have a student who'll say, I'm not doing that. It's against my religion.

Bev: Yeah, all right. Yeah. Actually, mindfulness is not religion specific. It's not religion specific. So it would really be good if teachers or counselors could really give an overview first of what mindfulness is. But basically, Carl, of course, if it's not something that the client or the student wants to do, we also cannot force them. Right. The best thing that we can do is really just try to introduce this concept. We can even give facts or research based evidence that supports classroom wellness using this particular approach, which is mindfulness. And at the end of the day, they have the freedom. They have the freedom and have the space to either participate or not. So at the end of the day, it's really their choice because none of any counseling approaches, counseling techniques, will be fruitful or will be useful and effective if it's forced and not accepted by the student or a client.

Carol: Yeah, I totally agree. Totally agree. So I know in my own school, I don't do it all the time, but I do try to go in and do well. The mindfulness that I would be using in my school would be more of like a mindfulness script. I call them, like our journeys. And so we go on a journey to different places, and the kids really seem to love I mean, they love them, but that's pretty much the only way that I'm incorporating, I think, mindfulness into my curriculum. Are there like, other things that maybe I could be doing or other counselors could do? Yeah.

Bev: All right. So again, we can be as creative, really just touching into different senses. If it's more of a guide or there's a script, a very specific script. It's more of like a guided imagery than the mindfulness. So for mindfulness, we can just anchor the thought to our senses. So, for example, we can use our breath to anchor on that. We can even use food, like really mindful eating or mindful drinking. Or for example, teachers will use arts like mindful drawing or mindful coloring. Or the teachers could use music and they will just listen to it, really anchoring the thoughts, noticing the thoughts, and then anchoring the thoughts to the sound or to the music. Or for physical, the teachers could ask the students to really just walk around the walk around the space or around the class and just spend that time to really just immersing themselves to that activity, which is walking. Oh, this is my favorite carol. It's the scent. I usually use peppermint. But whatever scent the student could bring, whatever it is that they want to, then they can anchor their thoughts to that particular scent. So taste, scent, sight, whatever it is, or coloring, action, movement, even dance. Yeah, mindful dancing is also a very fun way to approach mindfulness.

Carol: Okay, those are some really great examples to try. I really like the idea of maybe some mindful coloring. I think I'll have to try that. Now, what advice would you have for the counselors themselves to try to practice some mindfulness in their own lives? Because I can tell you, I have been meeting with counselors, not just like in my own area, but I've gone to other states this year and talked with groups of counselors and they all seem to be really suffering from, of course, the stress and the burnout and the anxiety and the pressures of the job. And I'm always trying to say, you have to really focus your attention on what's in front of you at that given time. But what other advice can we give our counselors?

Bev: Yeah. Wow. Usually burnout is happening when the task at hand is greater than the resources available. So, for example, resources may be talent, skills, time, or even human resource. And the task at hand or what the workload is, is really just tremendous as to what can be done on that particular deadline. So an advice that I could really give is applying the concept of mindfulness is to just pause for a moment. Take a pause, and when you take that pause, clarity will set in. It's like shaking a bottled like a merck of water and really just waiting it out. Take a pause and let the dirt settle down. The stress, the burnout, just let it settle down so that there will be a sense of clarity. And when that sets in, when the clarity sets in, then you'll be able to identify what you should do. Like, should you increase the resources because there's lower resources than the tasks at hand. So can you increase your resources? What it is that you could help yourself with? Could you ask help? Could you really say that the workload is too much? Can you upskill or increase your skills, your tech skills, your AI, your digital skills as a counselor? Or perhaps you can lessen the workload. You can delegate or you can assign, which is urgent, which is important, and which can be assigned to someone else. But the premises, the first step really, is to breathe and pause so that clarity will take in and the answers will be there.

Carol: Yeah, I do think that's so important. I think when we can take that time to take that break and to reflect, I think reflection is such a big component of trying to avoid the stress and the burnout. So I definitely think you're right taking that pause. Well, let's see. What else can I ask you? What do you want to share with our listeners?

Bev: Wow. It's just also, like, some of us would love to emphasize on the neutrality of emotions, because sometimes you don't like sadness. Like gara. Right? Cara. Like, okay, I'm stressed, and I want to get out from this. Oh, I'm feeling anxious, and I want to get out of anxiety, or I'm feeling sad. Except, of course, if it's really for an extended period of time. But really, emotions are emotions, and they need to be felt. It will build our emotional muscle and throughout time, taking that pause, holding into that emotional muscle is also a practice of mindfulness, really, just kind of holding into the emotion for quite some time before releasing. It is helpful in building that resilience and basically will help us to flourish and to try.

Carol: How long have you been a counselor educator?

Bev: That would be running nine years this August.

Carol: Okay. Do you teach classes on mindfulness or how?

Bev: Yes, I do.

Carol: And what's your favorite lesson that you do with students?

Bev: Definitely the breath work and carrying of emotion. And of course, the scent too. That's my favorite car, like, really using Ascent, my favorite release peppermint. It relaxes me and really just anchoring the thoughts to that aroma or to that scent. It could be coffee, it could be an essential oil, or it could be a rub, whatever it is. Or it could be a flower.

Carol: Okay, so do you bring essential oils in for, like, the peppermint smell?

Bev: Yes. I love it. Lavender, everything. I love it.

Carol: I have some at my house, but I never thought to bring them into my office. That might be a good idea to do that too. I know that when I sit with the kids, and if we're doing the 54321 mindfulness things, I always have coffee on my desk. What do you smell? They're always like yeah.

Bev: Carol also one of my favorites, though, that that lip my mind is anything with water. Like, really, like, after work or even, like, after class or session. Like, once I'm home, I kind of zip myself up, and I just compartmentalize. And then what I do is I shower like a hat shower and just really appreciating the water on my skin. And I just felt like all the excess radiation energy that I got that accumulated throughout the day is being washed off from my body, and I'm just into the water, touching my head, my skin, and then being washed. So wow, that's also awesome.

Carol: Being a bath or a shower, that's definitely a coping strategy, too. At least that we teach. So that's a good way to put that in there, that mindfulness piece in with that coping strategy. Feel it, like, wash away. And how does that water feel as it hits your body? And to be present there? That's a good idea. Well, I think this has been really great. A lot of little hints and tips, and I know that I am really looking forward to your session this summer. I can't wait. Yeah. Mindfulness is something that I do, I want to do more of, and I think I practice it really well myself. But in having other kids do it, or maybe working with my faculty to have them be a little bit more mindful, I haven't done a ton of that. So I'm anxious to hear I'm excited, I should say not anxious, but I'm excited to listen to your session and really hear all the hints and tips that you have for us.

Bev: Wow. I'm so excited to looking forward to that. Carol, just to share, there are a lot of mindfulness techniques, tools and techniques, but at the end of the day, whatever works best for 1 may not be the best approach for the other. So basically, just go ahead and find what works best for you, and that's it. That's the best approach.

Carol: Right. Do you have a favorite for you personally?

Bev: Yeah, the shower and aroma.

Carol: Shower and aroma. Mine, I like to call my witness moment. And so I spend a lot of time, like, driving. And so while I'm driving, I always look for that one thing that's going to be my witness moment. Like, what is the one thing that I'm seeing today that I'm so happy and glad that I was able to wow.

Bev: I love that. I love that. Carol yeah.

Carol: So my witnessed moment.

Bev: Wow. Yeah. And it brings the gratitude, right? Sense of gratitude, of witness wow moment. Wow. Thank you for that. Yeah, I'll do that.

Carol: It's really great. It's so funny. I have driven, like, the same route, I can't tell you how many times over and over and over again for years, and I'll be surprised. I'll drive by something, and I'm like, I never noticed that before. And it's like this blue house. Like, how can I miss it? I don't know. I'm always surprising myself. Like, all these things that I've been seeing on my route that I've driven many times that I've never noticed before. I think it's funny.

Bev: Yeah. Because when we're driving, we're just in auto mode, right. And we kind of set ourselves into trance that we kind of go away from being present. So yeah, that's really an awesome approach.

Carol: Yeah. All right, now, before I let you leave, I want to just ask you a couple of questions. Are you ready? Okay, I'm nervous.

Bev: I'm nervous. Can I say no? I'm not ready.

Carol: Okay. Are you binge watching any shows right now?

Bev: Right now. I just finished. Oh, the mother. Carol the mother from JLo. All right.

Carol: I'm going to have to watch that. I have been watching on Apple TV. Ted Lasso. I don't know if you've seen it yet. It's about the soccer coach.

Bev: Not yet, but yeah, I'll go ahead and ask you again later so I can go ahead and see that.

Carol: I think it's hilarious, but that's what I'm currently watching. If you were to spend the weekend any way you want, what would you do?

Bev: Free diving. Free diving? I'll do it free diving.

Carol: Really?

Bev: Open sea free diving? Yes.

Carol: How about you hanging with my family and not having to cook? That's the key, though. Not having to cook. Okay. And last question, I asked this one last time I had Ashley Bartley on, so I asked her this. I'm going to ask you the same question. Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Bev: I'm sorry?

Carol: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Bev: Yes. Oh, my God. Is there a right or wrong answer?

Carol: No, there's no right or wrong. It's just a weird question I'd like to ask.

Bev: All right. Yes. Anything that has something in the middle, I'll call it sandwich.

Carol: Okay. I usually ask all these really random questions in my lunch bunch groups and hot dog questions. It's like, the most, like, we'll have arguments with kids, like, no, it's not.

Bev: Or yes, it is.

Carol: So funny.

Bev: Yeah, that's what's fun. Garb.

Carol: Well, that's it for today. That's all the questions I have.

Bev: Wow. Thank you so much. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the witnessing exercise. I love that. Can I incorporate it?

Carol: Yes, certainly, go ahead.

Bev: Thank you.

Carol: Yeah, and I'm going to try the mindful drawing or coloring. Can't wait to do that. And bring in some of my I do have peppermint, too, so I'm going to bring that in. Good call. All right, well, thank you so much.

Bev: Thank you.

Carol: Before we leave, is there a way for our listeners to connect with you?

Bev: Yeah, sure. You can go ahead and connect with me. On my Facebook page, that's counselorbev and on my instagram, that's counselor underscore bev. My website is Counselorbev.com, but it's currently in how do they call this? It's currently being updated, and I'll be relaunching my website on my birth month on June. So kind of tune in. Thank you so much, Carol, for the invite.

Carol: All right, well, thank you so much. And it's morning there, so have a great day. I'm going to go to bed here because it was so great. So thank you.

Bev: Thank you. I really authentically had fun conversing connecting with your Carol, and I'm so excited to connect with you even more.

Carol: Me too.

Bev: Me too.

Carol: All right, so listeners, thank you for hanging out with us today and we will see you next time. Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat. All of the links I talked about can be found in the Show Notes and@counselingsentials.org Podcast. Be sure to hit, follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast player. And if you would be so kind to leave a review, I'd really appreciate it. Want to connect? Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials. Until next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now.