Mindful Focus Challenge

Life can be an ever ending cycle of chaos; a plague of distractions that pull on our time and demand moments of our lives. emails, news, messages, work, family and more cry out for our attention and we feel we must always give that attention to be successful.

As the holiday season gets closer, it seems that this pull on our time and attention becomes even greater.

It is during these times that we need to step back, take a deep breath and find our mindful focus. It will:

You would like to:

• Give us a greater sense of focus in your life.

• Support us in being more effective in your work and life.

• Help us to achieve a sense of peace and calm.

For 14 days, we will spend some time stopping the chaos, breathing and using a variety of mindfulness strategies to bring mindful focus to our day.

The #MindfulFocusChallenge begins on Sunday 18th November.

Don’t worry if you don’t start on that day because all 14 days will be posted each day below on this blog for you to do on your own timescale.

Share with others and let’s do this together! Don’t forget the hashtag #MindfulFocusChallenge.

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Book Review- Positive Pete and Mindful Molly- Jake’s Silence

Positive Pete and Mindful Molly
Jake’s Silence
By Sukaina Mukhtar

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Thinking differently can be a struggle for humans; for both the child that may have a particular diagnosis or for the other children and adults.

We all know children who can’t sit still, never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions or shout out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Some data shows that nearly 15% of the population is likely to be diagnosed with ADHD by the time they are adults.

Jake’s Silence is  the first of three books. The focus is for children to work on emotional intelligence. Thus,  the second book in this series goes further into using tools like visualisation and meditation.  The aim of the books is to help children become independent of their circumstance by cultivating these tools in order to overcome or manage their challenges.

This story is about a boy called Jake that has his own struggles dealing with ADHD. When dealing with some situations he becomes anxious and this leads to behaviours that others consider “naughty”. The books gives a little inside peek into what Jake is thinking and feeling. It also gives a peek to how others around him are reacting to his behaviours. Then their is Positive Pete and Mindful Molly that help Jake as he struggles through his day.

The book is based on a true story and is a good book for children with or without ADHD and adults. The story itself helps all people to understand what they can do to help themselves and each other. It challenges our attitudes on how we should support one another and not just jump to conclusions.

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Following the story are lots of thought provoking activities that allow us to explore the many themes that come out and can be easily used with one individual, a family or a whole class.

This self-published book can be purchased on Amazon here: https://tinyurl.com/PositivePeteMindfulMolly

You can find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults on my own blog here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness

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The feel of sand beneath your feet, the sound of waves crashing on the beach, the smell of sea water in the air and the sight of the sun rising and setting in the blue sky. What more could you want from a place to relax and recharge?

In research published by Health & Place , subjects living along the coastal regions reported better health and well-being.

Richard Shuster, PsyD, clinical psychologist says, “The color blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”

He goes on to say that the rhythmic sound of the crashing waves kind of de-stimulates our brains. The noises combined with the visuals, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is, as Shuster says in his podcast on The Daily Helping , “responsible for slowing us down and allowing us to relax and feel more engaged.”

In addition, the simple act of touching the sand makes you feel happy and relaxed. “The physical sensation of putting your feet in warm sand causes people to relax,” says Shuster.

This is great if you live by the sea and if you have time to get to the seaside. But, most of us have very busy lives that don’t allow for this and, if you are a teacher, you know that seaside visits are few and far between for your children with some never actually getting to a beach unless it is a school trip.

So, how can we use mindfulness to virtually get us to the seaside?

Top Tips for a Virtual Seaside Visit

1- Visual Meditations: play videos of beaches and waves crashing on the shore.
Focus children on the rhythm of the waves, the sound of the sea and the sky around it. Reminding them to take long Mindful breaths and allowing all worries to drift along like a cloud.

For a few moments, instruct them to close their eyes and imagine they are on that beach, with their toes in the sand and a warm breeze on their face.

Here are some ocean Meditations that would be good for children and adults:
Morning Meditation Ocean Sunrise – https://youtu.be/UpXMeZuWWR0
Misty Beach Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/E7qRkUYu580
Nice Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/V-_O7nl0Ii0
One Moment Ocean Meditation – https://youtu.be/RlOZ02HgAnE
Meditation on the Beach – https://youtu.be/jJkEiw6Gh0U
2- Blue Sky Meditation– display pictures of the blue sky like these:

Play quiet meditation music or nature sounds as you guide the children to focus on the photo and take deep mindful breaths.
Photo examples:

Or use these lovely Blue Sky Meditations:
Blue Sky & Cloud Meditation – https://youtu.be/tOf2VRZA-Rc
Blue Sky Meditation (Children’s visualisation) – https://youtu.be/5qoU_XBkm3g
White Clouds on Blue Sky Meditation – https://youtu.be/TWaQwDqERqE
Floating on a Cloud – https://youtu.be/kyQAKcWYtsk

Or, take the children outside on a nice day have them sit or lay back and focus on the clouds as you guide them through deep breathing. (Remind them not to look directly at the sun.)

3- Sand Play– Many Early Years classrooms and units have sand trays for children to play in and that is good. But, in addition, they need trays and larger areas with sand where you encourage children to take off their shoes and wiggle their toes in the soft, shifting sand. Allow children to use various body parts to explore the feeling of sand and get them to focus on the feel, warmth or coldness of the sand against their skin.

I have been compiling useful videos for the Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness on YouTube HERE.

By mindfully understanding and enjoy the gifts of nature, we can allow ourselves to relax and be in the present moment.

Find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Spring Mindfulness

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The different seasons allow us to explore mindfulness with children in different ways. Spring allows our senses to come alive and examine our senses in a way like no other season.

Celebrate that Spring has sprung with these mindfulness activities.

Flower Breathing

Each day we take about 20,000 breaths. This automatic bodily response keeps us alive and helps to regulate our emotions. When we bring attention to our breathing, we take control of our emotions and reactions through mindful purpose.

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First, get children decorate their own five petaled flower for meditation. For older children, have them add their own positive mantras that they want focus on.

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Once complete, have the children place it near where they work. They trace the flower and Inhale, hold at the point and focus on the positive mantra (if added), exhale and keep going until you’ve gone around the whole flower. Then touch the centre, breathe deeply and close their eyes for a moment.

Cloud Meditation

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Children have a natural mindfulness, particularly when it comes to nature. Now that Spring has begun to peak out from behind the greyness of Winter, the cloud meditation taps into this natural inquisitiveness.

How to do Cloud Meditation:

– Have children sit or lie down with a good view of the clouds.
– Begin by having them take five deep mindful breaths.
– Ask them to stare at the clouds while you ask them these questions to guide the meditation.
Are the clouds fluffy or thin?
Are they moving?
Are they making shapes of things you know?
Are they all the same colour?
What does the sky look like behind the clouds?
– Give them some silent time to just gaze and mindfully explore the clouds.
– Complete the meditation by discussing what they noticed and what emotions were felt.

Sensory Meditation

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Spring brings rebirth to our senses as flowers begin to make their way towards the warm rays of the sun, animals come out of hibernation and the world comes alive once again. Spring allows us to mindfully explore our five senses: sight, taste, Smell, touch and hearing.

Dedicate a week to the senses; appoint each day to a different sense.

– At the beginning of the day, identify the sense to focus on and discuss what they are already noticing. Then, decide to notice that on a given signal. (This could be the ringing of a bell, code word, etc.)
– Have children take a minute to notice.
– Guide them by asking them questions:
-Have you noticed something or someone you have never noticed before?
-How many different things are you noticing? (I always surprise myself when I   buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that car EVERYWHERE!)
– Have the children make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate themselves for being in the present and proceed with their learning/work.

Mindful Healthy Eating

Spring brings a burst of fresh fruits and vegetables. Explore mindful healthy eating by trying a variety of new foods. Find the instructions to facilitating mindful eating here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-mindful-eating/

Easter Yoga

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Spark the imagination through the use of these amazing Easter Yoga Poses and Easter Egg Hunt: https://www.kidsyogastories.com/easter-yoga-poses-game/

Happy Spring Everyone!

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Guest Blog: Empowering Question Meditation by Gill Hancock

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About the Author: Gill Hancock is a KS1 practitioner, working in an International school. With 20 years experience of KS1, KS2 and KS3 students, Gill firmly believes in the practice of mindfulness to empower students to think about the present moment in the ever increasing pace of modern life.

Gill tried out Empowering Question Meditation with her class with these results.

Asking questions can help to ground and focus our minds to support our development of emotional intelligence. I asked a year 1 class what they really liked about themselves and why brought some very interesting responses.

“I am brave because it makes me feel good to stand up for my friends.”

“I am kind because I can help people.”

“I am a risk taker with my learning and this helps my brain.”

“I like that I can focus to learn new things.”

“I am an exerciser and this makes my body healthy.”

“I am strong so I can help my mum and dad with jobs.”

“I am a super swimmer so I can soon swim without water wings.”

Follow Gill on Twitter @GillHanock

Find out about how to use Empowering Question Meditation or other mindfulness ideas at www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or in the book by Tammie Prince, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom published by Bloomsbury.

Tops Tips- Mindfulness & Tinnitus

This was originally posted a year ago for Tinnitus Awareness Week. This week we continue to raise awareness with an updated post. Tinnitus is a hidden and sometimes embarrassing problem for many. Here is my story and how I cope.

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Design.png(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/Pages/Category/tinnitusweek

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…

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FREE ONLINE Preschool Mindfulness Summit

Mindfulness for children is starting to become something people want to know more about. Giving our children life long strategies that supports positive mental health develops positive habits that allows them to cope with stresses that are a normal (and sometimes not normal) part of life.

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This year Helen Maffini has put together over 25 experts for the FREE ONLINE Preschool Mindfulness Summit (https://www.preschoolmindfulnesssummit.com/signup ) that begins on January 22nd – 26th 2018. Interviews start at 9am EST (New York) each day and will be posted for 24 hours.

I am honoured and humbled to be part of the panel featured in this mindfulness summit.

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Each day is packed with talk after talk that will keep you glued to the screen and finish with lots of strategies that is being used around the world.

Here is the schedule:

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So, this is one not to be missed! Sign up today!

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https://www.preschoolmindfulnesssummit.com/signup