Mindfulness in the Classroom – Valentine Mindfulness (AKA Loving Kindness Mindfulness)

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As we move towards the month of February, our minds tend to fall upon Valentine’s Day and the whole concept of LOVE. LOVE can be described in many different ways. But, really LOVE is about social connection between one or more people.

There is a fundamental need by humans for social connection; feeling kindness from and towards others allows for positive emotional well-being, improved health, decreased negative stress responses, greater empathy and heightened self-esteem.

Research by Hutcherson, Seppälä and Gross on Loving-kindness meditation that increases social connectedness, found even a few minutes of Loving Kindness meditation increased our feelings of social connection and positivity towards others. Loving-Kindness Meditations focuses on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness and warmth towards others, increasing love, joy, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement and awe.

Here are a selection of Loving-Kindness Meditations that can support the development of mindfulness for children and adults.

#RandomActsofKindness Hearts 

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

How to:
* 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 hearts , 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.

Loving Kindness Guided 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

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Mindful Loving Kindness Doodling
The goal of Mindful Doodling is to fully engage with your doodles in a meditative way. It requires slowing down, focusing on the paper and pen and doodling repeatively with full intent. More details, including how to and the benefits, can be found here.

While the children are doing Mindful Loving Kindness Doodling, have them focus on positive, loving and caring thoughts towards different people, including themselves. You can do this over a period of days focusing on one section at a time that would give maximum impact of the components of this mindfulness strategy.

You or the children can free hand draw your hearts or you can print out drawn hearts.

Here are some free printable heart shapes to doodle:
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/lots-of-hearts?tag=57097
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/hearts?tag=57097
http://www.coloringcastle.com/pdfs/shapes/s-heart.pdf

Finger Labyrinths
Labyrinths have been around for more than 4,000 years and have been used for relaxation, meditation and prayer that has brought spiritual and emotional well-being to the lives of those who used them.

Finger Labyrinths are known to help children relax, feel better when they are sad or scared, deal with situations when they feel ashamed or embarrassed and help them to concentrate. (Find out more in the Education’s Voice post on Finger Labyrinths here.)

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The Smiling HeartPath Finger Labyrinth Meditation is perfect to support the development of Mindful Loving Kindness. ( Originally found here )

Print out the Smiling HeartPath for each child, initially allow time for Mindful Colouring and then use, following the directions on the sheet.

Mindful Singing

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!
Meditation Dance Remix:  https://youtu.be/93mj4PaiOUo

What other Loving Kindness strategies have you used?

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Mindful Reflection – A 2018 Mindful New Year’s Resolution

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I will admit, I am not a fan of New Year Resolutions. Honestly, I don’t think most people are fans. However, year in and year out we make resolutions, break resolutions and then make them again.

What is a resolution? It is something which a person resolves to change- an undesired trait or behaviour-to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

Last year I decided to look at resolutions differently and make some that allowed me to develop more deeply my mindful practice, thus improving my life. You can read last year’s resolutions here. If you read yesterday’s 2017 reflection here, than you know those simple resolutions have now become my new Mindful Precepts, rules to live by.

I have another confession, my 2018 resolution was decided over a month ago by a kind and thoughtful person whom gave me an amazingly appropriate gift. She gave me a little book called A Sentence a Day Journal. The blurb for the book says, “Put pen to paper everyday to capture unique insights into your life.”

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Wow! Amazing right? This is a gift of Mindful Reflection. To take a moment each day to mindfully reflect on one single aspect of your day and allow yourself to be in that moment and allow yourself to solidify it in a few words allows you to take ownership of that moment,the epitome of Mindfulness. When you are reflective, you create a space for yourself that allows you to begin to notice your own internal experiences. It allows you to stay connected to your own passions in life.

My book has 366 different questions which I will use daily for 3 years allowing myself to Mindfully Reflect on my day. But, you don’t need a book or questions to make your own 2018 Mindful Reflection Book.

How to Create Your Mindful Reflection Book:

You will need:
– A small notebook that can hold at least 365/6 sentences!
– A pen
– 2- 5 minutes of time daily

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to mindfully reflect on one or two GOOD things that have happened to you that day. Some days will be easier than others. But, the key is pressing yourself to reflect on the good in each day and OWNING it by writing it down.

Allow yourself to waddle in the gratitude of that moment that has occurred, that it has enhanced your life that day. The more you identify the positives in life, the more positives occur. An attitude of positivity grows positivity (in the same way an attitude of negativity grows negativity).

Write down at least one sentence to celebrate that GOOD moment of your day (date it as well). Then, at least once a month, go back and read all the good things that have happened in your life. Allow yourself to appreciate those times.

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By allowing ourselves to Mindfully Reflect daily on positive aspects in our lives, we can begin to improve the quality of our thoughts, reactions and intentions.

#MindfulReflection

Note: You can begin Mindful Reflection at any time of the year. The key is to do it over a long period of time to develop a habit of positivity and gratitude that can improve your quality of life.

Mindful Precepts

That week between Christmas and New Year seems to be a bit of a black hole in time that gives us time to reflect on the past year. At times it can be the sense of melancholy, considering the things lost or changed in the last year. But, then again, those losses and changes gives opportunities to new adventures, friendships and ideas.

So, I now look back on my last year and revisit what my Mindful New Year Resolutions were and how successful I was in achieving what I set out to do.

My 2017 Mindful New Year’s Resolutions were: (You can find the post here.)

To BREATHE: ACHIEVED! Breathing became my anchor as I put myself out there; taking the steps away from the comfort of the known to the excitement of new challenges and experiences that, honestly at times, took my breath away!
To Be Present: ACHIEVED! Finding the “Rose” of each day is what got me through the most difficult ones and enhanced the most joyful ones.
To Let Go: ACHIEVED! Sometimes, things just don’t work out in the way you envisioned and letting go of that has been a challenge for me. But, each day the grip gets less and my new future gets brighter.
To Be Grateful: ACHIEVED! Gratitude filled my life this year in so many ways and from some of the most unexpected places.
To Be Positive: ACHIEVED! Positivity has been a big theme of the year. I have found myself being the model of positivity, the cheerleader of positivity and the receiver of positivity. Positivity can change a life.
To Believe In Myself: ACHIEVED! At times, this has been difficult. Humans are so critical of themselves. The diversity in our abilities, thoughts and actions can make us question our own ability and compare ourselves to others who are oranges and you are an apple. But, mindful perseverance helped me to have greater faith in myself.

So, a successful year of Mindful Resolutions all in all! It was rough at times. But, that is life isn’t it.

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The one thing I have come to realise that these these resolutions shouldn’t be resolutions. These should be something we strive for everyday of every year! These need to be our Mindful Precepts, rules to live by.

If we live by the precepts, we can enjoy our lives, our jobs, ourselves… We can also help others to enjoy their lives, their jobs and theirselves. If we can do that, we add our bit to making this a better world.

What are your Mindful Precepts? What have you learned are Rules to Live By?
#MindfulPrecept

Read about my 2018 New Year’s Resolution here- Mindful Reflections.

Book Review by Samira Ashraf- 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom

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Note: This is a book review written by Samira Ashraf who is a Curriculum Leader of Psychology, Mindfulness Lead and Teacher of RMS. You can follow her on Twitter @mindfulmiss1 .

Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword, not just in education but also in health care and the business world too. With the current focus on mental health and well being many schools are turning to mindfulness as a method to support their students. Within my own setting I am offering mindfulness to students across the school to support their wellbeing with positive feedback from pupils.
Tammie Prince has shown how easy it is to weave these mindful activities into your everyday classroom. Jam packed with, usually short and easy to prepare techniques, a wide variety of methods, such as breathing, guided meditations, active meditations etc.. The different activities will cater for different students and personalities. The use of quotes with each idea shows that Tammie has included tried and tested techniques within her own practice.
The calm down and relax techniques are particularly useful for students who need help to manage their stress, anxieties and worries and are simple but effective. My favourite technique that I use with Secondary level students is the Starfish hand meditation, a fantastic method to help with test/exam nerves.
The techniques that Tammie shares are not just useful for primary age but can also be adapted for KS3/4 and even 5. The teachers tips for each idea shows how versatile and adaptable each method is followed by further extension activities.
What is really useful is the Teacher’s mindfulness section, especially the mindful reflection. This book is not just for the students but it shows that we can all use these techniques to manage our own work/life stressors. I shall be sharing these techniques with our staff who would like to explore mindfulness personally or with their classes.

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom is written by Tammie Prince and published by Bloomsbury. You can find more information on the book and where you can order the book here.

2017 Education’s Voice – Top 10 Mindfulness Posts

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It is at this time of the year that we can sit back and reflect on the year gone. For me, there have been many highs and a few lows. However, the one constant in my life has been this blog. Sharing mindfulness with others is always one that gives me peace and joy. This year I wrote 30 new posts. So, with excitement, I have looked over the data and can happily reveal the Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017.

#10100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom (the book): This Post is a bucket list ticker for me. It is about my book published by Bloomsbury, where it can be bought and a definite high point of 2017.

#9Mindfulness in the Classroom- Using Play Dough Part 1: 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. This post gives you a simple recipe, how to do a Play Dough Meditation and how to make a mandala with Play Dough.

#8Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Christmas Mindfulness: Christmas is a stressful time of the year for most people. Add 30+ Christmas happy children, several Christmas performances and Christmas parties on top of the normal day to day life of a teacher, and the Christmas time stress doubles. This post outlines four weekly challenges for Christmas to help calm the anxiety and stress of the season.

#7Teacher and Leader Mindfulness- A Mindful Ofsted- Top 5 Tips: This Post outlines how we can prepare before hand for a more mindful way that allows us to show our schools at their best.

#6Mindfulness in the Classroom- Colour Meditation: Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity that allows children to take a breather, allow a moment to step back from the work and then continue in a mindful way that allows for maximum progress. This simple Colour Meditation allows for quick refocusing in the Classroom.

#5Mindfulness in the Classroom- Mindful Assemblies: when developing mindfulness in a school, it is important that it becomes part and parcel of school life, this includes Assemblies. This post is filled with whole school mindfulness strategies to keep a school mindful.

#4Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Holiday Mindfulness To Do List: Holidays/Vacations are important times (and much needed) for educators. There is no debate regarding the stress caused by working in schools. So, Taking holidays seriously as a time to recover and refresh is important. This To Do List helps get us back on the right track.

#3Mindfulness in the Classroom – Top Test Taking Tips: National testing is a part of education systems across the world. Every year, millions of children (and adults) sit down for timed, standardised tests. The anxiety levels hit an all time high. For some people, this adrenaline rush helps them. However, for many more, this stress doesn’t allow them to be at their best. These mindful tips can help make a difference and allow children to shine.

#2Mindfulness in the Classroom-Using Play Dough Part 2: who doesn’t like Play Dough? You can mash it, hit it, squish it and roll it. In this post, we look at how to use it as part of mindfulness development by making worry stones, finger labyrinths and stone towers.

#1Top Tips – Mindfulness and Tinnitus: This Post hit a need beyond just those in education. Tinnitus is a scared and annoying condition. There is no cure. Thus, those that suffer from Tinnitus have to learn to live with it and mindfulness is one way.

This is a fantastic and diverse list that I am proud of.

A special thanks go to family, friends and followers for indulging me and allowing me to share. I wish you and yours an amazing and mindful 2018!

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas prep is now in full swing and before we get overtaken by mountains of wrapping paper, filled with turkey and stuffing and spend time family and friends, Education’s Voice – Mindfulness would like to wish you and your family a Merry Mindful Christmas!

Over the next few days remember to STOP

Stop

Take a deep breath

Observe

Proceed

 ENJOY THE MOMENT!

Mindfulness In The Classroom – Five Things (Mindful Diversion)

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We know that breathing (read about different techniques here) is a top strategy to mindfully taking control of those emotions. However, some children (and adults) still find it difficult to just dive into calm, controlled breathing. If their anxiety is at its highest point, just breathing just doesn’t cut it.

Five Things is a Mindful Diversion strategy to get the child to the point of controlled Mindful Breathing.

How to use Five Things:

If the usual breathing strategies are not working or you know the child well enough to realise the child has reach the point that Mindful Breathing will not be as effective as it can, then:

  • Ask the child to name five things that they can see. If they still are not engaging in actively looking for five things they can see, then you begin…
  • “I see a blue book.” “Do you see the blue book?” “Where is the blue book?
  •  Continue to name things, encouraging them each time to name an object              before you name an object.
  • Repeat with what they can hear.
  • Repeat with what they can smell.

By the end, the person’s mind should divert from the negative spiral and be back to the present moment where breathing strategies can have maximum impact.

NOTE: This is an equally effective strategy for children and adults.

Find more mindfulness strategies on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com and in the Bloomsbury book, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom by Tammie Prince ( Bloomsbury Link, Amazon Link )