Mindfulness in the Classroom – Loving Kindness

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According, Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, “ One in ten children and young people aged 5 to 16 has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems.”

The Week of 6th-12th February 2017 is  #childrensmhw, Children’s Mental Health Week. Promoted by http://www.place2be.org.uk/ , it is to make us aware of the mental health crisis that we are dealing with on a day to day basis. This year’s theme is- spread a little kindness.

The use of Loving Kindness in mindfulness development is good not only for the child but for the people around them no matter what time of the year.

So, how can we spread a little kindness this week and EVERY WEEK of the year?

#RandomActsofKindness– Change the attitude of a class from whining and moaning to one of appreciation and gratitude.

  • Discuss with children what a random act of kindness is and come up with a list of RAKs for at least the number of children in the class.
  • Write these RAKs on individual slips of paper, fold and put into a hat/bag/bowl and allow each child to take one RAK. (NO TELLING! It is a secret!)
  • Alternatively, each child can come up with their own RAK. (They are more likely to be able to do this after they get the practice of RAKs.)
  • During the given time frame, the child is to complete the act WITHOUT saying they are completing the RAK. (This will also take some time as at first, they will want to tell everyone what they have done. The point of RAKs is to do a RAK without recognition. This will be the ultimate level of this mindful practice.)
  • After the given time frame, as a class, discuss how completing the RAK made them feel and how they think it made the other person feel.

Thank You Cards– Old School, but a simple way to spread a little kindness. Have each child make Thank You card for someone thanking them for their love, caring, help or any other thing that person has done for you.

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#PositivePostItDay– #PositivePostItDay was started by a young lady in Canada called Caitlin Haacke. After being bullied herself, she decided to take a stand against bullying. She single handily started the movement of positivity that is sweeping the world.

You will need lots of post-it notes! But the idea is simple.

  • On the day, have the children discuss what we like in other people and in ourselves and then have them write at least two positive notes; one to themselves and one to someone else.
  • Allow the children to stick the notes EVERYWHERE; on the person, on a door, on a table, on a wall, etc. Fill your classroom, area or school with these little positive notes.
  • At the end of the day, have the children discuss how being positive effected them. Was it difficult to think of something positive about another person? Was it difficult to think of something positive about themselves?

Loving Kindness Song– Something that we know brings joy to many people is the act of singing and, with it part of the curriculum, this is another way to bring mindfulness to the forefront in an integrated way.

This Loving Kindness Dance Remix is an upbeat song that brings combines Loving Kindness with the joy of singing and great to use every day!

Loving Kindness Meditation Dance Remix:  https://youtu.be/93mj4PaiOUo

Loving Kindness Meditations– Guided meditations focuses the mind on one aspect.  For Loving Kindness meditations, it focuses our minds of being kind to ourselves and to others.  It really is about spreading kindness.

Here are a few that you may find useful for your class and yourself.

Loving Kindness Meditation for primary children: https://youtu.be/YRwQrzogy-g

Loving Kindness Meditation for primary children :  https://youtu.be/-9_ZHnltMe0

Loving Kindness Meditation for upper primary children and teenagers: https://youtu.be/sz7cpV7ERsM

Loving Kindness Meditation for adults/ teenagers: https://youtu.be/MKtXw-tivZg

The world is a harsh place. Join me in spreading a little kindness around the world.

Share your ideas and don’t forget to use the hashtag #childrensmhw

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Mindfulness in the Classroom – Using Play Dough Part 1

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Play Dough has been known for its therapeutic properties. The squishing and pounding, pinching and moulding provides a Kinesthetic/ kinaesthetic learning opportunity that can be used to enhance the development of mindfulness.

Over the next two posts, I will outline how to make your own play dough and ways of using the play dough in mindful practice.

Play Dough Recipe

  • 2 cups/ 260 g flour
  • 1 cup/ 130 g salt
  • 1 cup/ 235 ml water
  • Optional: food Colouring, essential oils or spices

Mix flour, salt and water together to form a dough. If the dough is too dry add a few drops of water. If the dough is too wet, add a little bit of flour.

Optional: once dough is formed add extras as desired; 2-3 drops of food colouring, 2-3 drops of essential oil or 1-2 teaspoons of fragrant spices.

Keep the dough covered when not in use as it will begin to air dry.

Calming essential oils: lavender, rose, chamomile, clary sage

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Play Dough Meditation

  • Set the scene by having all the children find a comfortable sitting position and put on some calming meditation music.
  • Give each child a small ball of the play dough and instruct them NOT to play with it, roll it or squish it.
  • Once everyone has their Play Doh, begin the meditation. Have them take three deep belly breaths.
    • Instruct them to look at the Play Dough. Getting them to notice the urge to squeeze it.
    • Is the Play Dough hot, warm or cold?
    • How would you describe the colour of the Play Dough?
    • Have the children move it from hand to hand. Does the shape change?
    • Notice the smell of the Play Dough.
    • Push a finger into the Play Dough. Can you see your finger print? What does it look like?
    • Then instruct the children to continue to squeeze, roll and make into shapes. Remind them to concentrate only on the Play Dough, how it feels in their hands and the smell of dough.
  • Complete the meditation by having the children take three deep, belly breaths.

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Play Dough Mandala

The word, mandala, is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit that means “circle”. The circle is the basis of a design that has intricate geometric shapes that draws attention to the centre and inspires quiet contemplation.

To make a mandala each child will require:

  • A ball of Play Dough
  • A selection of seeds, beans, flowers and shells to create the mandala
  • Wax/Baking Paper
  • Picture samples of Mandalas

How to Make a Play Dough Mandala:

Roll out the ball of dough so that it makes a circle on a piece of wax/baking paper.

  • Using the selection of seeds, beans, flowers and shells, create a design by pushing the items into the dough. I suggest that they begin with the centre and slowly continue to create circular designs working your way outwards.
  • When finished allow to air dry for 3-4 days or oven dry at a temperature of 200c for 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully, as the dough can sometimes begin to rise. If it does, remove from the oven, using a dry dish towel, lightly press down to flatten the mandala. Allow to cool and complete air drying if required.
  • Once the mandala is dry, cover in a coating of Modge Podge or PVC glue to seal.

The mandalas can now be used as part of a Mandala Meditation.

Note: Younger children may not fully grasp the circular patterns of mandalas and the designs may be more chaotic. That is fine. It is their designs.

 

Mandala Meditation

    • Play a selection of meditation music for the length of time you want the children to meditate. Usually this is one minute per year of age, ie 6 years old= 6 minutes
    • Children are to sit comfortably and take three deep belly breaths.
    • They are to look at the mandala, focusing on the centre of the design while still breathing at a steady rate.
    • Gently guide the children in a soft voice, letting them know it is ok for their gaze to wonder to other parts of the mandala, noticing the designs, colours and ways the lines meet each other. As the meditation comes towards the end, encourage them to focus back on the centre.
    • In the last 30 seconds of the meditation, have the children close their eyes and get them to recreated the design in their mind, continuing even, steady breaths.
    • Complete the meditation with three deep mindful belly breaths.

 

For more uses of Play Dough in Mindfulness, read Part 2 coming soon.

 

 

 

Tops Tips- Mindfulness & Tinnitus

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(I thank my regular blog followers for allowing me to go slightly off message for a worthy cause. Next week is Tinnitus Awareness Week in the UK and USA. Information can be found here: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/taw2017 )

I can’t remember exactly when I started hearing the continuous ringing in my ears. I do remember the exact moment I realised that I had some hearing loss. At the time, it was upsetting but not life altering. I realised that, in one ear, I could not hear high tones. I think back now and realise that was the last time I actually couldn’t “hear” anything all the time! The constant ringing began shortly after that. First, in only one ear, and then in the other. I was in my 20’s. I coped, I believe, during those early years because the noise was low in volume. Then while pregnant in my 30’s, the volume kicked up to decibels that I find hard to explain even now. I knew what I had before I even went to the doctor. But, after numerous tests, it was confirmed. I had Tinnitus with hearing loss in both ears.

What is Tinnitus?

The British Tinnitus Association says,

” The word ‘tinnitus’ comes from the Latin word for ‘ringing’ and is the perception of sound in the absence of any corresponding external sound.
It is not a disease or illness; it is a symptom generated within the auditory system.
The noise may be in one or both ears, or in the head, or it may be difficult to pinpoint its exact location. The noise may be low, medium or high pitched. There may be a single noise or two or more components. The noise may be continuous or it may come and go.”

My Tinnitus is a constant high pitched tinny ringing in both ears. The volume can fluctuate from high pitch to excruciatingly high pitch and at times have a sing song quality to it. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. My hearing is greatly effected and, at times, people think I am ignoring them or not paying attention to them when I have to ask them to repeat what they said. I need people to look at me when when speaking and I find crowded, loud venues very upsetting and annoying as I can not process all the sounds and participate fully. I prefer to always have a fan, music or the tv in the background to generate noise to help mask the ringing. Sometimes, the ringing is so loud it wakes me up when I am sleeping. It is NEVER quiet.

I knew before I received my diagnosis that there is no known cure. However, I was so desperate, I had hoped the doctors would give me some advice and support. To be honest, I found the support very lacking. Due to the hearing loss, they fitted me with hearing aides. They did make the sounds I could hear louder. However, I found that the echoey amplified sound also amplified the ringing over time! The other advice I received, was that I would just “have to learn to live with it”. “How?”, I asked. They just shrugged their shoulders.

While exploring natural ways to combat work stress, I found mindfulness. My research and education in learning to use mindfulness in everyday life to deal with stress had an added benefit. I quickly realised that following my 10 minute morning guided meditations, my Tinnitus became less noticeable. This had me wondering and trying out different ways of meditation and which ones were most effective in the aspect of my Tinnitus.

I found the following:

1- Silent meditations without music or background noises had little effect on the Tinnitus. As a matter of fact, the meditation was completely ineffective for the purpose of stress relief and, in some cases, made my stress worse because I had a hard time not focusing on the ringing and it becoming LOUDER!

2- Meditations first thing in the morning had a greater impact than later in the day.

3- Meditations that had a focus on other things and not on the Tinnitus were better for me. So, bespoke meditations focused on Tinnitus were not effective. I actually focused more on the ringing!

4- If, during the day, the volume was becoming more noticeable (and it usually could be associated with rising stress levels in other parts of my life), if I gave myself a mindful moment, it could calm the sound.

So, I have come up with two top tips for dealing with Tinnitus mindfully.

Top Tips:

1- Listen to a guided meditation 10 minutes a day first thing in the morning. Ensure there is music or nature sounds in the background to allow yourself to focus. Some good guided meditations are:

10 minutes of Peace, Calm and Tranquility: https://youtu.be/HVWkp1Nu6o8
Guided Meditation for Peace and Contentment: https://youtu.be/eDQxQ8dhfug
Guided Visualisation Meditation- Ocean Escape: https://youtu.be/ar_W4jSzOlM
Floating on Ocean Meditation: https://youtu.be/7DSXtxrIdmY
More can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL76Tcrfnqwv6uL9BQUdRjbJse6scuYaLy

2- Allow yourself mindful moments in the day to allow yourself to take control of your stress before your react to the stress. Some quick and simple mindful moments are:

Shoulder Relaxation– Take deep mindful breaths. Inhale for five counts, pause for a count of one and then exhale for a count of eight, on the exhale, focus on allowing your shoulders to relax and drop away from your ears. Allow yourself to make noise as you are inhaling and exhaling allowing you to focus on that sound and the feel of your shoulders.

Hand Washing Meditation– When we wash our hands in warm water, it opens the blood vessels and tricks your brain out of a stressful state.
– When you go to wash your hands, be mindful of the sensation of the water and soap as your rub your palms, between your fingers and on top of your hands. Breath deeply allowing your breathing enhance the feel of water and soap.
– How does this moment feel?
– How is it making the rest of your body feel?

Water Meditation– – Pour yourself a glass of plain water. (It can have ice.)
– Sit down with your water and allow yourself to be aware of drinking the water.
– Take a sip. Allow the sip to linger in the mouth. Notice the temperature of the liquid against your tongue, cheeks, gums and palate. What can you taste? Is there a sweetness, bitterness, acidic or even slightly salty taste?
– Notice the sensations of the water being swallowed and flowing down your throat and into your stomach.
– Continue to be mindful of each sip; allowing yourself to be in the very present moment of drinking your water.

Will this work for you? Maybe? It is worth a try!

Mindfulness will not stop the ringing. However, it does help you to redirect focus and put less emphasis on the constant sounds in your head.

Join me in brining awareness to Tinnitus and share in conjunction with #TAW2017.

In addition to this blog, follow me on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince and Facebook at www.facebook.com/educationsvoice for more tips, ideas and strategies for Mindfulness in the classroom and for adults.