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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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.