My name is Cynthia Ruiz. I’m a former high school English teacher turned yoga and meditation teacher. I’m a lifelong learner who appreciates good music, books, traveling, movies, dinosaurs, and minimalism. I come from a large family and I consider myself fortunate in that my parents are still married and lead very active lives. I have a sister and two brothers, both of which are married with children. I’m in a supportive relationship with my partner, Jesse. We live in Central Austin with our 10 year old pit bull son Brick.

As a high school teacher, I did my best to establish positive relationships with my students and colleagues. For the last 5 years of my career, I began to notice an increase in the levels of stress and trauma in my classroom. These issues were dramatically emphasized on February 8, 2016, when one of my former students was shot and killed by a police officer. This tragedy confused both myself and my students, and I didn’t have enough strategies or resources at school to properly address what I was feeling much less what my kids felt. I remember being told “counselors could be made available” and feeling like that wasn’t enough.

About one year later in March of 2017, I attended SXSWEdu and went to a Social Emotional Learning/Mindfulness session hosted by AISD. I felt an immediate shift in my heart and calm in my mindset after just a few simple practices. When I got home, I immediately researched mindfulness resources for teachers and enrolled in online courses offered by Mindful Schools. I practiced and taught what I learned in my own classroom and a noticeable shift in patience, gratitude, and positivity occurred. I connected more with my students and colleagues. I felt less stressed at work.

At the beginning of the following school year, I decided to earn my 200 hour yoga teacher certification to learn more about how movement and meditation impact your mindset. I taught full time during the day and attended my yoga training on Wednesday evenings. I quickly learned that yoga focuses on your breath and body and helps you connect with yourself, and it complimented my mindfulness practice. I continued to feel more peace and gratitude and less stress at work.

The more I learned new strategies about yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, the more I felt pulled to do more for my students and colleagues, but I was limited in what I could do. I reached out to district personnel in the hopes of creating a mindfulness pilot program but received no actionable support. I resigned in June of 2018 and left to create my own mindfulness consulting business for schools and offices.

I taught high school English for 14 years and honestly it took me a while to realize that as much as I love reading and writing, English Language Arts is NOT my passion. Teaching is my passion. Connecting with others on a human to human level is my passion. I used to tell my students that I wasn’t just another adult put in charge of them. I was a person just like them. Just like them, I was a human. I was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s aunt, someone’s friend. At some point, I had been a student, too, and as a human I have emotions that change every moment of every day just like they did, too. Mindfulness helped remind me and my students of this human connection, and that “We are more alike than unalike” as Maya Angelou once said.

I’m passionate about teaching mindful communication because I want to remind those in the workplace that at the end of the day, when you remove the labels of CEO or manager, executive or entry level, we’re all just humans. We’re in this world together, and if we learn how to mindfully listen, speak, and connect with one another, we can share this space with less stress and more peace.

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